The likeness of Dick Cheney—former vice president and, some say, war criminal—is now enshrined at the U.S. capitol, where his marble bust, perched upon a pedestal, was unveiled Thursday.
Cheney himself, former President George W. Bush, Vice President Joe Biden, and Republican lawmakers attended the unveiling ceremony in the Capitol Visitor Center’s Emancipation Hall. The sculpture will now join the busts of over 40 other vice presidents both in and outside the U.S. Senate chamber.
The 43rd president and 46th vice president took the occasion to heap praise—and warm humor—on each other.
But the dedication raised some eyebrows, in part because it came just two days after Human Rights Watch released a scathing report calling for the administration of President Barack Obama to pursue a criminal investigation of Bush, Cheney, and other U.S. officials responsible for CIA torture.
So many things to do to that bust. US doesn't prosecute its war criminals. It honors them. https://t.co/skuNAJICHo
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) December 3, 2015
— Andrew Stroehlein (@astroehlein) December 3, 2015
Odd choice to place a bust of Dick Cheney in the senate as we continue to deal with fall out from his war crimes. But sure, why not.
— Bree Newsome (@BreeNewsome) December 3, 2015
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The unveiling also provoked satire.
— TrivWorks (@TrivWorks) December 3, 2015
Cheney, for his part, appeared unrepentant and pleased.
The ceremony was the first public appearance of Cheney and Bush together since Jon Meacham's biography of George H.W. Bush was released in November. Bush Sr. is quoted criticizing Cheney for being "hard-line," "iron-ass," and "knuckling under to the real hard-charging guys who want to fight about everything, use force to get our way in the Middle East."
Bush Jr. made light of the comments about the former vice president, who has recently used his considerable media platform to rail against the nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, declare he is unapologetic about the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and call for military escalation towards ISIS.
Bush joked that, upon telling his father about the ceremony, the latter "perked up, and he said, 'send my best regards to old iron-ass.'"
Cheney retorted by saying he took the remark as a "badge of honor."