It's in The Washington Post, so I guess it must be true:
Cheney's Influence Lessens in Second Term
...There is no evidence that Cheney's close relationship with Bush has been lessened. But there is also little doubt that the causes he has championed -- a tough skepticism of negotiations with dictatorships such as North Korea and the forceful exercise of presidential authority -- are being rethought within the Bush administration, according to officials inside the government and experts outside it....
The article, by Michael Abramowitz, says this happened because of the "unraveling of a Cheney network" -- the departures of Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and especially Scooter Libby. Condi Rice, Abramowitz says, has stepped into the void.
Maybe this is true -- although if it is, I think the tipping point came when Rumsfeld left. If it is true, then the monster Cheney created (or at least helped create) punished him by escaping from the lab.
Cheney helped persuade Bush after 9/11 that, in his mid-fifties, his purpose in life had been thrust upon him: war-presidentin'. Alas for Cheney, Bush liked war-presidentin' so much that by sometime last year he began to feel constrained by Rummy's troop limits and Cheney's insistence that everything is Iraq was still hunky-dory. Hence the firing of Rumsfeld and, perhaps, the decreased reliance on Cheney. Bush liked deploying toy soldiers; he wanted to deploy more of them (though not so many that he'd have to call for a draft or repeal of the tax cuts, or admit that he'd conducted the mission for years with a serious troop deficit). He got his way.
And, of course, Cheney and Rummy made Colin Powell unwelcome -- which allowed Condi to increase her influence with Bush.
I'll believe Cheney's truly in the doghouse if we get to 1/20/09 without a military strike on Iran. For now, though, he may have diminished influence because he gave Bush a thirst for bloodshed and didn't realize that thirst would break its creator's bounds.