How Dick Cheney dodged the draft.

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
March 18 2004 5:09 PM

Elizabeth Cheney, Deferment Baby

How Dick Cheney dodged the Vietnam draft.

"[T]he Senator from Massachusetts has given us ample doubts about his judgment and the attitude he brings to bear on vital issues of national security," Vice President Dick Cheney said during a March 17 visit to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum. He was talking, of course, about John Kerry, the putative Democratic presidential nominee. During the past three years, we've all become better acquainted with Vice President Cheney's judgment and attitude toward national security, which are a good deal more hawkish than Kerry's. A widely observed irony is that the dovish Kerry saw combat in Vietnam while the hawkish Cheney accepted a series of student and family-related draft deferments. Cheney's unself-consciousness about this is (or at least was) so pronounced that in 1989 he told George C. Wilson of the Washington Post, "I had other priorities in the '60s than military service."

What Chatterbox never realized until recently, however, is that Cheney's eldest daughter, Elizabeth Cheney, likely owes her very existence to her father's avoidance of the Vietnam draft.

The Washington Post's Phil McCombs made the intimate calculations in a profile published in April 1991, when Cheney was defense secretary. The timeline:

Aug. 29, 1964: Dick and Lynne Cheney marry.

May 19, 1965: The Selective Service classifies Dick Cheney 1-A, "available immediately for military service."

July 28, 1965: President Lyndon Johnson says draft calls will be doubled.

Oct. 26, 1965: The Selective Service declares that married men without children, who were previously exempted from the draft, will now be called up. Married men with children remain exempt.

Jan. 19, 1966: The Selective Service reclassifies Dick Cheney 3-A, "deferred from military service because service would cause hardship upon his family," because his wife is pregnant with their first child.

July 28, 1966: Elizabeth Cheney is born.

Jan. 30, 1967: Dick Cheney turns 26 and therefore becomes ineligible for the draft.

Dedicated students of obstetrics will observe that Elizabeth Cheney's birth date falls precisely nine months and two days after the Selective Service publicly revoked its policy of not drafting childless husbands. This would seem to indicate that the Cheneys, though doubtless planning to have children sometime, were seized with an untamable passion the moment Dick Cheney became vulnerable to the Vietnam draft. And acted on it. Carpe diem!

Who says government policy can't affect human behavior?

Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His  book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

An Iranian Woman Was Sentenced to Death for Killing Her Alleged Rapist. Can Activists Save Her?

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

The U.S. Has a New Problem in Syria: The Moderate Rebels Feel Like We’ve Betrayed Them

We Need to Talk: A Terrible Name for a Good Sports Show by and About Women

Trending News Channel
Oct. 1 2014 1:25 PM Japanese Cheerleader Robots Balance and Roll Around on Balls
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
The Eye
Oct. 1 2014 1:04 PM An Architectural Crusade Against the Tyranny of Straight Lines
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 2:08 PM We Need to Talk: Terrible Name, Good Show
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Oct. 1 2014 1:53 PM Slate Superfest East How to get your tickets before anyone else.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 3:02 PM The Best Show of the Summer Is Getting a Second Season
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 3:01 PM Netizen Report: Hong Kong Protests Trigger Surveillance and Social Media Censorship
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 2:36 PM Climate Science Is Settled Enough The Wall Street Journal’s fresh face of climate inaction.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.