by Toby Harnden
1. Dick Cheney (6 in the 2007 list )
Former Vice President of the United States
A low key and intensely loyal vice-president, Dick Cheney has emerged as the principal tormentor of Barack Obama in the past year, shaping the national debate on national security and forcing the White House to scramble to respond. Cheney signalled his intent way back in February when he stated that protecting America was “a tough, mean, dirty, nasty business” in which “evil people” would not be stopped “by turning the other cheek”. Having campaigned against the “politics of fear” and ridiculing the notion of a war on terror, Obama is finding out that the Islamist threat was not something dreamed up by Cheney and Bush. The President has been repeatedly rattled by Cheney, as illustrated by his decision last May to time a speech so that it would coincide with the former vice-president’s address at the American Enterprise Institute. It was Cheney who framed Obama’s delay on deciding his Afghanistan surge strategy as “dithering” – and the characterisation stuck.