Washington Is it time for Vice President Dick Cheney to lighten his workload? Not if you listen to Dick Cheney.
"I've been living this way for 25 years," he told an aide this week after he underwent surgery to reopen a narrowed artery. "I've been dealing with this for decades."
Despite chronic heart disease and four heart attacks, Cheney says he has no desire to slow down.
"He was dismissive" about the idea, said Mary Matalin, the aide who raised it with him.
Doctors warn that on-the-job stress can make a heart condition worse, but the vice president doesn't think his job is all that stressful, Matalin added.
Cheney left George Washington University Medical Center on Tuesday, one day after surgeons threaded a catheter into an artery near his heart and inflated a tiny balloon to open it up.
His doctors said there was a 40 percent chance that the narrowing problem could recur, but added that there is "a very high probability" that he can complete his four-year term.
Aides said Cheney may return to work in the White House as early as today. President Bush told reporters that he doesn't think Cheney should cut back on his workload, either. "He shouldn't ... because he's needed," Bush said during a visit to Chicago. "This country needs his wisdom and judgment."
Cheney, 60, is already one of the most powerful vice presidents in modern history. A former White House chief of staff and secretary of defense, he ran the new administration's transition operation and was a major voice in the selection of cabinet members.
Matalin said Cheney is "pacing himself" and has shown no sign of stress in the job.
She said the vice president arrives at work at about 7 a.m. and tries to leave between 6 and 7 p.m., a schedule typical for much of official Washington. Cheney and his wife, Lynne Cheney, often attend political or social events in the evening, as well.
Since his fourth heart attack last November, she noted, Cheney has gone on a diet, started an exercise program and lost weight.