CNN's John King on Tuesday asked former Vice President Dick Cheney if one of the motivating factors behind writing his recent book was out of a fear that his "days could be numbered."
As only Cheney can, he dryly replied, "I was very much aware that my days are numbered. So are yours" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
JOHN KING, HOST: As you were writing this book --
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: Right.
KING: -- you obviously -- you have -- I'm not even quite sure what to call it -- attached to you.
When you were writing this book, I don't mean to sound morbid, but were you thinking, you know, "My days could be numbered and I need to get this right, this could be my last word?"
CHENEY: Well, I -- it wasn't directly linked to the book, but I was very much aware that my days are numbered. So are yours. Mine presumably because I'm a lot older than you are, John, it's more of a factor for me.
But I went through a period in the -- during the time I was writing the book - where I became very ill. I had a long history of heart disease, had my first heart attack at 37. And in December of '09, shortly after I left the White House, I had an episode of ventricular fibrillation when your heart beats very fast and irregular. Fortunately, I had a defibrilator implanted years before, it kicked in restored a normal heart beat. A few months later I had my fifth heart attack, and by the summer of last year, of 2010, I had gone into end stage heart failure. My heart simply wasn't moving enough blood to service my kidneys and so forth.
So what we did was we went in and installed what's called a heart pump. It's not an artificial heart, we don't have those yet, but it's a pump that supplements the work of my heart. It moves blood to all of my vital organs and its worked magnificently.
And I have to wear the vest all the time. It's got batteries that power the deal, the control element. And then inside, a small pump that runs at about 7,000 rpm to move the blood through my system. But it's really worked well. I'm back out on the river fishing. I'm traveling the country promoting the book. Life is good.
Isn't there a better way to ask such a sensitive question without the obviously insensitive "days are numbered" line?
It strikes one as a bit ghoulish and intentionally appealing to the part of CNN's audience so hateful of the former Vice President that they get joy from his illness and the thought of his demise.
There should be a level of respect and courtesy accorded former political leaders that one would think precludes speaking of his death so cavalierly.
Or are my conservative defenses up too high?