"I didn't change. The world changed."

The first thing I asked Mr. Cheney was how he and President Bush became targets for such intense, visceral animosity after the national unity of 9/11 dissolved, lasting the length of two presidential terms.

“I want to be careful how I say this,” he replies. “I didn’t write about this in the book.” The answer that emerges adds no insight into the opposition’s mind—”I don’t want to say there was a political motive involved.” Instead Mr. Cheney’s instinct is to compare his understanding of the facts with the positions taken by an opposition operating with the same facts. He replies that if one looks at what prominent Democrats were saying about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction in the years before 9/11, “you can’t tell those statements apart from our statements.” What their critics mainly were looking for, he thinks, was a way to “put distance” between themselves and the administration.