Hailing Dick Cheney as “Conservative of the Year” in the current issue of Human Events, former ambassador John Bolton makes this transparently false claim in reference to Cheney’s speech at the American Enterprise Institute last May:
So, a major Cheney speech at AEI shortly after leaving the vice presidency was neither surprising nor aimed at the new Oval Office occupant. What was surprising, unprecedented and even unpresidential, however, was the Obama Administration’s reaction. Instead of leaving it to allies in Congress, Cabinet officers, or the media to debate the former Vice President, the White House scheduled a speech by the President himself on precisely the same topic.
The idea that Cheney’s speech was not “aimed at the new Oval Office occupant” doesn’t even pass the laugh test. AEI itself billed the speech in precisely that way, and conservative outlets promoted it as essentially an emergency intervention into President Obama’s dangerous refusal to embrace torture as a tool of American national security.
Or, alternatively, you could take Cheney’s word for it. Here’s what he says about the speech in the Human Events interview that ran along with Bolton’s fan letter:
Q: What pushed you into giving that speech [at AEI in May] and making the points you made on interrogations and gathering of intelligence?
CHENEY: When I left government, I did not plan to be active in any political sense of the word. I didn’t have a plan to go out and engage in controversy or make political speeches. What got me here was the notion that they [the Obama administration] were going to do two things: One was to investigate and possibly prosecute the CIA personnel who carried out our policies. And the other was to go after the attorneys in the Justice Department.[...]
And I thought it was just plain wrong not to stand up and defend them as well as to defend what we’d done. And it didn’t look to me like anybody was going to do it if I didn’t do it. And I was perfectly happy to do it.
So even Dick Cheney is completely out front that the speech was, in fact, “aimed at the new Oval Office occupant.” As to why Bolton would assert otherwise, it’s just a necessary part of his through-the-looking-glass argument that there has been nothing at all unusual or unprecedented about Cheney’s relentless attempts to publicly undermine the new president and his policies, and that the only unusual thing is Obama’s puzzling concern with rebutting Cheney’s brave, selfless, and totally-uninterested-in-repairing-his-own-disastrous-legacy “truthtelling” as it’s been relentlessly amplified by right-wing media over the past year.