Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney is an American politician and businessman who was the 46th Vice President of the United States from 2001 to 2009, under President George W. Bush.
He is of predominantly English, as well as Welsh, Irish, and French Huguenot, ancestry; Cheney's 8th great-grandfather, William Cheney, immigrated from England to Massachusetts in the 17th century. Although not a direct descendant, he is collaterally related to Benjamin Pierce Cheney (1815–1895), the early American expressman. Cheney is a very distant cousin of both Harry S. Truman and Barack Obama; the three share a common ancestor in Mareen Duvall, a Huguenot who fled from France to England in the 17th century and later settled in Maryland.
When Richard Bruce Cheney was a student at Natrona County High School in Casper, Wyo., he was a solid football player, senior-class president and an above-average student. Cheney's football coach remembers the young man as a locker-room leader, though not the rah-rah, attention-grabbing type.
He attended Yale University, but by his own account had problems adjusting to the college, and flunked out twice. Among the influential teachers from his days in New Haven was Professor H. Bradford Westerfield, whom Cheney repeatedly credited with having helped to shape his approach to foreign policy. He subsequently started, but did not finish, doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
He directed the United States invasion of Panama and Operation Desert Storm in the Middle East. Cheney's most immediate issue as Secretary of Defense was the Department of Defense budget. Early in 1991, he unveiled a plan to reduce military strength by the mid-1990s to 1.6 million, compared with 2.2 million when he entered office. Cheney's 1993 defense budget was reduced from 1992, omitting programs that Congress had directed the Department of Defense to buy weapons that it did not want, and omitting unrequested reserve forces. Over his four years as Secretary of Defense, Cheney downsized the military and his budgets showed negative real growth, despite pressures to acquire weapon systems advocated by Congress. The Department of Defense's total obligational authority in current dollars declined from $291 billion to $270 billion. Total military personnel strength decreased by 19 percent, from about 2.2 million in 1989 to about 1.8 million in 1993.
Following 9/11, Cheney was instrumental in providing a primary justification for entering into a war with Iraq.
Cheney has been characterized as the most powerful and influential Vice President in history. Both supporters and critics of Cheney regard him as a shrewd and knowledgeable politician who knows the functions and intricacies of the federal government.