Valley Forge memories: The time I didn't know Richard


So Romney is flying tonight on a plane -- having more fun sleeping over in Philly before a day of events tomorrow. There's a fundraiser at the Union League, which is just the setting to dispel the notion that he's the candidate of the 1 Percent. He also comes out to (barely) Delaware County, where he speaks at the Valley Forge Military Academy. The hard-discipline school -- which educated some kids of the Chicago mob in the 1960s, true story -- is apparently also a favorite stop for Republican candidates. In fact, it was there at VMFA in 2000, when I was the Daily News political writer and we actually went to stuff, that I "confronted" Dick Cheney face to face.

Now anyone who's been reading Attytood for the last 7-and-a-half years (or it's long forgotten "pilot" episode, called "Campaign Extra!" with an exclamation point) knows that Cheney is the bete noir of the blog, pure evil rendered into human form, walking among us lowly mortals. So you can imagine the hard-hitting questions I asked the GOP vice presidential candidate as we sat around a small table -- Cheney, his wife Lynne and a small gaggle of local reporters -- and gazed out at the football field and the late summer foliage.

Here's an excerpt from the Daily News of Sept. 7, 2000 (via Nexis, so no link):

The GOP's Dick Cheney brought his quiet quest for the vice presidency to the Philadelphia suburbs yesterday, and bowed to political reality by saying he now "probably" would support the massive Delaware County defense contract that he sought so aggressively to kill a decade ago.

Responding to a question from the Daily News, Cheney conceded that he had lost the battle to kill the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor helicopter - manufactured by the Boeing Corp. in Ridley Park - and that he would likely support the project if he and George W. Bush are elected in November.

"We're committed now, and we've made a significant upfront investment, and if I had to sit down today and decide what our needs are and given the status of the program, I'd probably go forward with it," said Cheney.

Wow. Nothing about his secret energy task force, or his ties to Halliburton, or whether he planned to invade Iraq, or what his view was of torture or "waterboarding," or his views on duck-hunting safety (heh). Because on September 6, 2000, we had no idea what Cheney had up his sleeve with that "quiet quest" that I wrote about. At that moment, Cheney was the grown-up, the "smart one," not a monster. We just didn't know.

I only bring it up because it's a reminder that for all the words and all the blather about a 2012 presidential campaign that's gone on for months and months, what will probably strike us years from now will be the things we didn't know, and the questions we didn't ask. It never would have occurred to me in a million years to ask Cheney whether he was going to invade Iraq.

So what aren't we asking Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Joe Biden and Paul Ryan?

Think about it this weekend.