[Former Republican Congressman Vin Weber is] convinced that if a Democratic president enjoyed such an “ideal partnership” with his vice president, liberal historians would be celebrating a “historic advance in American governance that has finally made the vice presidency a serious institution rather than a holding tank in case of a catastrophe.” Dick Cheney meets with heads of state while they are still breathing. . . .
Vice President Cheney is tasked with helping to develop national-security and economic-policy options for the president’s consideration. Although he has been known to balk at including some administration initiatives in his own speeches (“I just don’t believe in that”), aides recount that in meetings with cabinet officials and senior staff he asks detailed policy questions without ever revealing his own views. His staff is unaware of whether issues have even been raised with the president, and learn nothing about what advice Cheney has offered. His power doesn’t derive from choosing policy winners and losers: Dick Cheney is the most consequential vice president in history because his vast experience, lively intellect, and policy know-how are reserved for the president alone. His only agenda is to provide thoughtful and thorough counsel, and as a result he enjoys the president’s absolute trust.