GLENN BECK PROGRAM
BECK: I told you yesterday that we need to start building freedom libraries in our own homes. We have to start teaching our kids what our culture is really all about, telling them the story. Have you told your kid the story of George Washington cutting down the cherry tree? Have you done it? Have you told your kids the story of Abraham Lincoln walking five miles to return a penny? We need to make sure we don't lose these stories because we're losing touch with who we are and it's being taken. We'll get into that here in just a second.
But it's not coincidental that Lynne Cheney is on the phone with me and Mrs. Cheney has just written a new book that is available now, Blue Skies, No Fences: A Memoir of Childhood and Family. Hello, Lynn, how are you?
CHENEY: I'm good. It's a pleasure to be with you.
BECK: Tell me your history because weren't you a teacher or a librarian? What is your history?
by Lynne Cheney
CHENEY: You know, I started out to be a college professor.
BECK: College professor?
CHENEY: And, you know, what with one thing and another, I actually did television for a little while and I've decided though after all of these byways that I'm a writer and that what I love doing most is what you're talking about.
CHENEY: Is helping people understand our history better, encouraging the study of history. If we don't know where we came from, it is honestly true that we don't understand how lucky we are.
BECK: Oh, we have no idea, and I am so afraid ?? I mean, you have been watching the news and you have seen that, you know, in our universities they won't let people speak. We're not ?? we haven't become more tolerant. Our society has just changed targets, and I'm so afraid that we have lost or we're losing our history. When the new Superman movie comes out and Superman stands for truth, justice and nothing else.
CHENEY: That's interesting.
BECK: One generation, we have lost the American way.
CHENEY: One of the things that I do in this book is talk about how it was in the late Forties and early Fifties and how we studied heroes in school. We didn't have something called President's Day. We had Washington's Day and Lincoln's birthday and we knew the details of their lives and they're figures that we could admire. And, you know, I think a lot of that has been lost as you're saying. And what good parents do is try to recover that part of the culture and make sure that their own children have it. We need to keep encouraging the schools, of course, to teach about the heroes of the past, but meanwhile very good thing for parents to do is to be sure the kids know that story, use time at home as a place to tell those stories.
BECK: How do you ?? if I was to assemble a library, what would be ?? where would you even begin? If you were putting together a freedom library, as I've called it in my house, and wanted to make sure that I had the quintessential stories of America, the most important books on America, I mean, where would you start? Washington's Book of Virtues or the ?? where would you ??
CHENEY: Well, you would want good biographies of our great leaders and that's an important place to start. You know, kids should know, start with four Presidents, start with Washington, start with Lincoln. I'd put Teddy Roosevelt on the list. Think who you want for the fourth one. I mean, I think Ronald Reagan deserves to be right up there.
CHENEY: Be sure that they know the lives of these Presidents. But there are also, what I talk about in Blue Skies, No Fences are hidden heroes and sometimes you can find those ?? in fact, most people can find those in their own families. In my family, for example, it was people who struggled. One was a Mormon convert, a woman named Kotura who was converted as a very young woman. She was a servant girl, probably never been more than a few miles from home, made her way across the ocean, made her way up the Mississippi on the Missouri. Her young husband died. A few months later she had a baby and the baby died and she kept going, you know, and if she hadn't kept going, if she hadn't made her way to Utah where she met my great-great-grandfather and the two of them married and their sixth child was my great-grandfather, you know, I'm so lucky to have this story in the background. Nobody else besides you and me and now your listeners has heard of Kotura, but she is one of those hidden heroes. And in the freedom library, those stories belong, too. Those stories of men and women who aren't in museums, who aren't in history books but who with just a little effort whose lives you can make come alive for your children. And I think those stories are such a good entry point to history for them.
BECK: Yeah, I ?? my wife and I keep journals, and we write down our ?? we write down our current history and what our thoughts are and where we came from and where we're headed and what we think of the world. And as I write them, I try to write it every night ?? I don't make it ?? but as I write it, I think of the future generations that will read it and have a better understanding of ?? you know, one of the problems is you go to Washington, D.C. and you see that statue of Abraham Lincoln and he becomes almost a God and you forget that he was a man that was just like you and just like me and just ?? you know, we struggle to find the right course and the right answer and it's only through that struggle that we make it and we become a better person.
CHENEY: One of the lessons that my mother taught me, I talk about this in my book, that her lesson was people are just people. And she was ?? she taught that lesson to me, the first time I remember, in connection with race. We had very few African-Americans when I was growing up in Casper, Wyoming girl in the book the first time I saw an African-American person. A man was getting on the bus and we were riding a city bus and my mother, I think, probably understood that as a very young child I was liable to say something very loud and tactless. So she whispered to me, Lynnie, it's just like clouds: Some are dark and some are light. In other words, she was saying people are just people. You know, we shouldn't worry about difference when it comes to race. We shouldn't worry about difference when it comes to religion. But I've also found that lesson very helpful when it comes to thinking of historical figures, people of great fame and celebrity. Underneath it, people are just people, and greatness is not achieved easily. Lincoln had many struggles, and I think letting our children know about the ways in which his life was hard is a very important part of teaching them about him.
BECK: Have you been keeping a journal, you or your husband, during these years?
CHENEY: Oh, occasionally I'll jot something down. The stories I like most are little kid stories, you know, some of the funny things my grandchildren do. They live, for part of the time anyway, in the sort of rarified atmosphere of, you know, high political office and they are very grounding, you know. They bring you right down to Earth every time.
BECK: Yeah. How strange is it going to be for ?? I would imagine so much relief. How odd will it be to now be out of public life when the ?? you know, after you leave office?
CHENEY: You know, Dick and I have been through these transitions before. I think that my being a writer, it honestly doesn't make a lot of difference to my professional life. I loved writing Blue Skies, No Fences and I, you know, hope to go on writing and encouraging the study of history. I've become very interested in family history. And in the back of this book I point out some of the ways that people can begin to find out more about the heroes and heroines in their own past. I want to continue that. So, you know, we've been through these transitions before. There's no way of predicting exactly how life will be, but I suspect there are going to be some threads that will continue.
BECK: Are you at all concerned that your husband will be remembered as ?? I mean, he's almost Darth Vader now the way the media has made him. He's almost Darth Vader. Are you ever concerned about setting the record straight or looking into, you know, years and years down the road to say, I hope that history finds a little justice or humanity and it's not just this axe to grind?
CHENEY: Well, you know, when I get outside of the beltway, I get outside of Washington, D.C. as I was this weekend, I went to Wyoming and was doing a book signing for Blue Skies, No Fences and I had so many people ?? I mean, I think almost everyone who came through the line said, you know, we want you to know that we are so proud of what Dick is doing.
CHENEY: And if you get outside, outside the chattering classes, Americans out there who are getting up every day, raising their kids, working for a living, they know that this President and this vice president have done a superb job.
At 9/11 I think none of us would have thought we could go six months, maybe not even six weeks without another attack. It's now been well over six years and there hasn't been another assault on our country, and that is no accident. They've set in place policies, they've set in place programs that have kept us safe. They've done it, you know, with the Democrats screaming wildly at them about half the time, but they have done that. And I think when the history books are written, that's going to be the story. That's the story that children will be learning in, you know, another 100 years, how in this time of crisis we had two men, we had a President, we had a vice president who were men of great determination who kept this country safe.
BECK: You talk about in your book about the family and about meeting Dick. What is the ?? what has been the hardest night of your life with him, with what ?? with what was happening in the world or whatever was going on, what was the time that you anguished all night?
CHENEY: Well, it was 9/11. You know, I think there's a tendency right now ?? I read the papers in the morning and I see people saying, oh, my gosh, we can just quit worrying; the Bush administration is fearmongering, you know, they are trying to make us afraid and, you know, we live in a very perilous world, and I certainly recognized that in a deep way on 9/11. We looked out ?? we forget the details. We looked out and we saw those towers under attack.
I can remember Dick asking, we were sitting in the Situation Room how many people are usually in those towers and he was told 50,000 people. Now, 3,000 deaths was a great tragedy but, you know, at that moment we thought it could be so much worse, and there are all sorts of scenarios that you can come up with. If you can imagine Iran, for example, a country that has exported terrorism, a country that has vowed the destruction of Israel. If you imagine Iran with a nuclear weapon, you know, the possibilities of 9/11 are multiplied so many times over.
So it was that night, and I think that night has become a metaphor to me for the dangers we face, and I think it should be a metaphor for all Americans. There are things that we need to fight against with great fortitude and ??
BECK: You know, it is amazing to me and I mean, you have been in the field. So you may have a different perspective on this. It is amazing to me how it seems as though our country, we are under attack from almost every angle. We are under ?? somehow or another communism or socialism isn't a bad word anymore. It's not a thing to be feared. Somehow or another we've been positioned in our own minds as the bad guys, as the oppressors. We have ?? we're losing our borders, we're losing our culture, we're losing our history, and the American people ?? and not all of them, and I think you'll agree with me. When you go into the center of the country, they are much more alert but yet they are not on alert. They understand what's happening to our country but they don't think it could ever happen to them. How did this happen to us?
CHENEY: Well, we should not let the media off the hook. I write in Blue Skies No Fences about how we did not have cynicism in our hearts to the degree we do now, and we didn't see that kind of cynicism, for example, in reporting on the Korean War. When there was a necessity of a retreat, when the Marines were trapped at the Chosin Reservoir and they had to retreat, the report in my local hometown paper credited this retreat as being one of the most skillfully executed in history. In other words, you know, people look at the military and gave them a break. Now you got the "New York Times" giving moveon.org a special discount to call General Petraeus a betrayer of our country. Now you've got the new Republic promoting the falsehoods of this young man in Baghdad saying that American troops are, you know, using their Bradley fighting vehicles to run down dogs and to ?? sitting in mess halls and making fun of people who have been disfigured in battle.
BECK: How does that ??
CHENEY: This is all not true. That kind of cynicism I think does put people off their guard and we need to be on our guard.
BECK: The USA Today has a front page story today I found amazing. Front page story today couldn't find the troop reduction ?? for the last couple of weeks I've been looking. Can't find troop reduction. The reduction in violence in Iraq has been reduced now by 70% since the troop surge. Can't find that anywhere. Today that number was on the front page of USA Today but only in a way that the Pentagon was asking for more money by using bogus numbers because the snipers with are not as bad as they were recently and why is the Pentagon asking for all of this money. And I thought, that's the only way they'll talk about a reduction of violence is if somehow or another somebody's done something wrong.
CHENEY: You know, I am privileged, because I'm married to Dick, to spend a lot of time with military men and women. And one of the comments I hear time and again when people have come back from Iraq is we do not recognize the story that the media is telling the American people. It does not seem to reflect the experience that we had when we were there and, you know, I just find this so ?? I find it sad and I find it alarming and it's something that we need to be aware of so that we can, you know, look for the good that's there. And you have to look for those good stories, just as you were looking for, you know, the fact that the strategy in Iraq seems to be working, but who's going to know that when they have to dig the way you did.
BECK: Talking to Lynne Cheney about her new book and I just want to ask you this final question on how much ?? how important is the role of God in today's America?
CHENEY: Well, you know, I hate to put God and polling data in the same sentence but if you do a survey, you find that people are deeply religious.
BECK: I don't ??
CHENEY: We're the most religious nation on the face of the Earth.
BECK: I don't mean it that way. I mean for our success and for moving forward and just being the country that we always have been, how important do you believe the role of God is?
CHENEY: I think it's very important and I think it's been very important since the beginning. One of the things I try to do when I write children's books is make sure that I include the quotations from the founders that talk about the necessity of seeking guidance from divine providence. There are some wonderful, wonderful quotations that don't make it into the history books usually because we've tried to secularize it. I love George Washington's letter to the Jews at newport, which is a wonderful statement about religious tolerance. I have Ben Franklin's statement at the Constitutional Convention about how prayer got us through the Revolution. So time and again you saw this in the beginning. I can't imagine we have ever had a President that hasn't found himself on his knees while he was in the White House. It is such a big job, such a blessing we've been given, and the presence of God in our lives could not be more important, could not be overstated.
BECK: Name of the book is Blue Skies, No Fences: A Memoir of Childhood and Family by Mrs. Lynne Cheney. Thank you very much.
CHENEY: Thank you.
BECK: You bet. Bye bye.