In 1969 Cheney took a post in the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity. He soon caught the eye of the White House, and in 1971 he became a staff assistant for President Richard Nixon. From there Cheney quickly moved up to become assistant director of the Cost of Living Council, a post he held until 1973. In 1974 he was hired to be deputy assistant to President Gerald R. Ford. In 1975 Cheney became White House chief of staff, where he remained until 1977.
In 1978, Cheney was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as Wyoming's sole congressman. He was elected to five additional terms and became a respected and influential legislator in the process. Tapped by President George H.W. Bush to become secretary of defense, Cheney assumed that post in March 1989. He delegated much responsibility for the daily internal workings of the Pentagon to his deputy, Donald J. Atwood Jr. Cheney preferred to handle the larger, more public aspects of the job himself. In 1989 he selected General Colin L. Powell as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The choice proved the right one when Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, precipitating the Persian Gulf War. Cheney and Powell helped engineer a masterful international military coalition—backed by the United Nations—that swiftly defeated Iraqi forces and liberated Kuwait in February 1991. Casualties among coalition forces were extraordinarily light. Indeed, the Persian Gulf War made Cheney and Powell household words and brightened both men's political stars.
After Bush was voted out of office in November 1992, Cheney joined the American Enterprise Institute as a senior fellow. In 1995 he became president and chief operating officer of the Haliburton Oil Company, a major player in the international petroleum market. In 2000, Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush selected Cheney as his vice presidential running mate. Bush and Cheney were sworn into office after a contentious and disputed election in January 2001. Cheney is said to wield enormous influence in the Bush administration, but after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, Cheney has kept an exceedingly public low profile.
Paul Pierpaoli Jr.
Bamberg, James. British Petroleum and Global Oil, 1950-75: The Challenge to Nationalism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.; Mann, James. Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet. East Rutherford, NJ: Penguin, 2004.; Nichols, John. Dick: The Man Who Is President. New York: New Press, 2004.