Former Vice President Dick Cheney said today that he is undecided on whether to have a heart transplant but called the heart pump he had implanted last summer "a miracle of modern technology."
"I haven't made a decision yet," Cheney said of the transplant. "I'll have to make a decision at some point, whether or not I want to go for a transplant. But we haven't addressed that yet."
In an interview with NBC News, his first since undergoing the heart surgery, Cheney demonstrated that while he has lost weight, he has not lost his trademark edge and propensity for sharp partisan commentary. He spoke candidly about how his relationship with former President George W. Bush was "a bit" strained by the end of their time in the White House, but he declined to weigh in on Sarah Palin's qualifications to be president.
Cheney reiterated his statement that President Obama will be a one-term president and questioned his commitment to preventing a terrorist attack.
"I think his overall approach to expanding the size of government, expanding the deficit, and giving more and more authority and power to the government over the private sector is a lack of -- sort of a feel for the role of the private sector in -- in creating jobs, in creating wealth and getting our economy back on track," he said. "Those are all weaknesses, as I look at Barack Obama. And I think he'll be a one-term president."
Asked if he still believed that Obama has made America less safe, Cheney said his previous comments were in reference to concerns that Obama would roll back counterterrorism policies the Bush Administration had put in place, such as enhanced interrogation techniques and the terror surveillance program.
"I think he's found it necessary to be more sympathetic to the kinds of things we did," Cheney said, noting that it was "all well and good" that the Obama administration has "gotten active" with the drone program against terrorists.
But, Cheney said, he still worries that Obama does not have the same absolute commitment to preventing a terror attack that he and George W. Bush had simply because Obama has yet to go through a day like 9/11, as they did.
"[Sept. 11] certainly stimulated in me and I think the president I worked for an absolute commitment that that's never going to happen again on our watch. And that we'll do whatever we have to do in order to prevent it," he said.
"And I hope President Obama is to that point now where he has that same basic attitude. But we might never find out until there's actually another attack."
Asked about whether the political rhetoric in the United States has "gotten out of control," Cheney first urged caution when looking at the shootings in Tucson.
"I think we need to be a little careful about assuming that somehow the rest of society or the political class bears the responsibility for what happened here when it was the act of a deranged, crazed individual that committed a crime," he said.
But Cheney, who famously told Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., to "go f--- yourself" on the Senate floor, noted that U.S. politics "can get pretty rough at times."
"A good, tough political fight is one of the great strengths of our democracy," he said. "And so I think we have to be cautious, I guess, about jumping to conclusions here about the extent to which the sort of the political environment contributed to or caused this event."