« You Long-Haired Freaks Should Just Be Happy You Still Get to Call Yourself Americans! | Main | On Barbara Ehrenreich and Elites »

Why Cheney Can't Leave

I put myself on the record, months ago, arguing that the fix was in on Dick Cheney, and that the moment his numbers truly needed a boost, Bush -- rather like George Steinbrenner announcing that Manager Dick Howser, having won 103 games in 1981, was stepping down to pursue "once-in-a-lifetime real estate opportunities in Florida" -- would announce that Cheney was voluntarily leaving the ticket and would fill the slot with whoever helps him where he needs help at that point. At the time, I thought Senator Bill Frist was being groomed for that slot, credited with such marvelous achievements of caring government as the Medicare prescription drug bill!

(By the way, that aside in the previous paragraph represents just about the limit of my ability to slip baseball references into my writing. I'll leave that to George Will.)

I think I might have been wrong about Cheney. First, I hadn't thought about this at the time, but I suspect there's some truth to the idea that the Bushes do not want some young new GOP face to emerge who would overshadow Jeb Bush in 2008, either as successor or challenger, so Cheney remains a useful placeholder.

Second, who is there now who could replace Cheney? Probably not Frist -- his leadership does not tell a good story, and if the charge against Edwards is inexperience, Frist's only been in public service four years longer, and rose faster. As for Giuliani, Pataki, Ridge, and others: The party simply does not have the option of picking anyone who wavers from the orthodoxy on abortion and gay rights. Do you want to be the one to introduce an ethnic mayor of New York who after his divorce lived with a gay couple to a Madison Square Garden packed with delegates selected through Rove's nurture-the-base process? (OK, you probably do, but that's a different motivation.) As for anyone in the administration: Rice, Powell, Thompson, Ridge again -- every one of them, if nominated, would put a specific debate about their own role in Iraq or the other debacles at the center of the campaign. There's not a single person in this administration who has anything better than a mixed record, although I don't know about the Secretary of Agriculture. Governors? Apparently the sainted Bill Owens of Colorado has been found wanting, due to an ugly divorce and the exposure of the financial house of cards that is his state. And just as Dean emerged in the primaries because there were no other credible Democratic governors, there aren't that many credible Republicans now. Schwarzenegger wouldn't do it, Rowland has quit, the midwestern governors are gone. Not a lot of options, and none well-known. Finally, McCain might still be the prize for either party, but I have no hesitation in speculating that, while McCain did give some actual thought to a hypothetical Kerry offer before preemptively and courteously turning it down, he would give no thought at all to a Bush offer. He would be unfree to speak his mind, and the ticket might lose anyway, taking his entire political career and reputation with it. Plus, Bush wouldn't do it.

And I also have come to think that there may be some truth to the idea that Cheney is the driving intelligence behind the entire Bush presidency. The insistence on being interviewed together by the 9/11 commission is one huge hint; the many instances in which Cheney seems to speak for the administration but with a tone and argument totally unrelated to Bush's, is another. The fact that Bush sometimes gets his message into line with Cheney's, rather than the other way around, speaks volumes. And if Cheney is driving the decisions, then the man who picked the vice president is unlikely to fire himself.

One could argue that Cheney could retain his influence with Bush without the title of Vice President, and that's probably true. But what he would not retain would be his ability to dominate internecine warfare, which is what it's all about. He would not be able to march over to the CIA and demand to read raw data if he was merely an advisor to the President. Or, imagine how difficult it must have been for Josh Bolten to ask Cheney to please confirm with the President his hasty order on Sept. 11 to shoot down a plane headed for Washington. Cheney-as-advisor could not give such orders, and the natural deference that "staff" must give to elected officials would not protect Cheney from the many enemies he has made within his own government.

There is also the fact that, except for Larry Lindsey and Paul O'Neill, and George Tenet, this administration cannot fire anyone. It is such a rigid, stay-on-message corporate culture that the information that someone has to go cannot penetrate to the top.

I am beginning to think that behind all the bluster, George W. Bush is a frightened, confused individual, totally unable to understand the magnitude of the decisions he got talked into making, and dealing with it by becoming paralyzed, letting the individuals who represent power centers within his administration, such as Rove, Powell, Wolfowitz, Cheney and Rice run off entirelly on their own. Those who are able to manage the president's message, such as Cheney, are at a bureacratic advntage. But politically, this White House is a sitting duck, and as a matter of psychology, I think the Final Days of this crowd will make for amazing reading.

Posted by Mark Schmitt on July 8, 2004 | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341ce8a553ef00d8342167a953ef

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Why Cheney Can't Leave:

» More on the Puppeteer from Kautilyan
In May, the NYT's fearless reporter Elisabeth Bumiller, wrote a silly column (which I discussed here) suggesting that those who think Cheney is the power behind the Administration are part of the "Angry Left". It looks like we can add [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 8, 2004 12:59:53 PM

» Why Cheney Will Stay from Pandagon
Mark Schmitt recants his opinion that Cheney is expendable:And I also have come to think that there may be some truth to the idea that Cheney is the driving intelligence behind the entire Bush presidency. The insistence on being interviewed... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 8, 2004 1:08:41 PM

» More on the Puppeteer from Kautilyan
In May, the NYT's fearless reporter Elisabeth Bumiller, wrote a silly column (which I discussed here) suggesting that those who think Cheney is the power behind the Administration are part of the "Angry Left". It looks like we can add [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 8, 2004 3:07:30 PM

» Bmw levaquin amoxicillin cephalexin from Zyprexa neurontin wellbutrin Godzik Blog
Free search: amoxicillin, levaquin, glucophage, lanoxin, wellbutrin, neurontin, zyprexa, bmw... [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 24, 2005 12:57:01 AM

» Furniture search by phrase: Blinds from Searching the Catalog
Modern furniture design store : Contemporary lighting, cool accessories and ... with the exact phrase. with at least one of the words. without the words ... [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 13, 2006 12:17:37 AM

» Hamas Tells U.N. It Wants Peace With Israel from that it recognize
tells U.N. it looks forward to living side by side with its neighbor nation. [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 30, 2006 11:44:28 AM

» Finding Information on the Internet from Net Search
The University of California Berkeley recommends search strategies, explains search tools, and gives guidance on evaluating and citing web pages... [Read More]

Tracked on May 3, 2006 11:12:36 AM

» Ailing Puerto Rico faces credit woes from as political
its credit rating as political leaders remained deadlocked yesterday over how to resolve the island's fiscal crisis [Read More]

Tracked on May 15, 2006 11:31:24 AM

» Nets' Carter to Determine Health at Tip Off from in the fourth
writes that if you're wondering how Vince Carter will be physically for Game [Read More]

Tracked on May 20, 2006 10:57:43 PM

» Suns Sink 12 3-Pointers in Win Over Clippers from a potent offense
12 3-pointers to offset 40 points by Elton Brand and lift the Phoenix Suns to a 130-123 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in Game [Read More]

Tracked on May 24, 2006 12:15:47 AM

» Italian Charms from ItalianCharms -- Search results
Italian charms has stainless links from companies by Zoppini, Boxing, ReFlorence, Puzzle, Ryry, Talexia & Unodomani... [Read More]

Tracked on May 28, 2006 8:36:58 PM

» VA chief vows "relentless" exam of data protection policies from the loss of veteran
Congress about the theft of personally identifiable data for every living veteran, vowed to enforce [Read More]

Tracked on May 30, 2006 6:26:21 PM

» Gardaí foil post office raid in Westmeath from have foiled an
have foiled an attempted armed robbery at a post office in Co Westmeath. [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 9, 2006 1:10:55 AM

» ACE Inhibitors May Boost Birth Defects from which lower blood
women who are taking a class of drugs called ACE inhibitors, which lower blood pressure, to reconsider the use of those drugs before [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 10, 2006 11:43:17 PM

» estate loan real from car loan
Loans Home Equity Loans - Home Mortgage Student Loans [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 19, 2006 6:10:20 AM

» O'Rourke equals record at The Mardyke from O'Rourke equalled
her Irish record in the Women's 100 metres hurdles at the BUPA Cork City Sports at The Mardyke. [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 3, 2006 10:51:23 AM

» From Poor Penmanship to Bad Communication: Many Opportunities for Medication Mishaps from Report Suggests
Report Suggests Electronic Prescriptions for All Drugs by the Year 2010 [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 24, 2006 8:14:21 PM

» Re viagra cello. from Viagra.
Viagra description. Best price on viagra. Herbal viagra. Buying overnight viagra. [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 24, 2009 10:52:47 PM

Comments

There is also the fact that, except for Larry Lindsey and Paul O'Neill, and George Tenet, this administration cannot fire anyone.

This administration cannot fire anyone who tells the President what he wants to hear. (I'm not sure whether or not Tenet is an exception to that rule; O'Neill and Lindsey certainly confirm it.)

Posted by: Seth Gordon | Jul 8, 2004 9:20:01 AM

Bush campaign ads have forced Bush's hand to keep Cheney. With the whole "Edwards Second Choice" theme, Bush cannot dump Cheney without this ad coming back to slap him in the face.

Can you say 'Bush flip-floppery?'

Posted by: Kilroy Was Here | Jul 8, 2004 11:16:12 AM

An excellent discussion of this important issue. I also agree strongly that McCain would never do it. I suspect he wants a Bush defeat so that he can pick up the pieces, and that the reason he is now playing loyal soldier is so that he will be in a position to do that. On Schwarzenegger, he not only wouldn't do it but he could not leaglly do it, since he was born in Austria.

Posted by: herodotus | Jul 8, 2004 2:29:30 PM

Let us not forget Bush's remaining asset: his loyalty and perseverance (in that slamming your head into a wall sort of way). And the base loves Cheney: Rove's careful cultivation may be for not if they feel they've been sold out for something as tawdry as good politics.

Posted by: Chris | Jul 8, 2004 2:46:35 PM

I am beginning to think that behind all the bluster, George W. Bush is a frightened, confused individual,...

one more notch for Michael Moore, recall his clip of the commander-in-chief on 9/11.

Posted by: lerxst | Jul 8, 2004 3:11:07 PM

It is also getting awfully late to do this without high costs. As Kilroy noted with the anti-Edwards ads, every day that passes gives the Republicans something else they would have to explain or backtrack on if Cheney got booted.

Posted by: stuart | Jul 8, 2004 5:33:15 PM

I think they'd like to replace Cheney, but it's too late. The time to replace him would have been before Kerry chose a VP. And I disagree that there are no good choices: I think your dismissal of Frist was too facile; there's John Kasich, Richard Lugar, Tom Ridge

Posted by: | Jul 8, 2004 10:49:41 PM

Frist? the clown who denounced richard clarke for perjury without knowing what he said? whatever credibility he had, he lost it that day.

Meanwhile, excellent baseball reference, Mark!

Posted by: howard | Jul 8, 2004 11:10:13 PM

I agree with all of Mark Schmidt's disqualifications. The nameless nominator who posted at 10:49 PM seems not to know that John Kasich -- divorced, childless, and living with another man -- is widely believed to be secretly gay. Lugar would be much better, though he's been quite critical of GWB's Iraq policy. Some have proposed Zell Miller, but he has no more foreign policy background than Edwards, and like Lugar, he's 72 -- a bit old for the gig. Best choice? Our new U.N. Ambassador, John Danforth: midwesterner, three terms in the Senate, respected in both parties, mentor of Clarence Thomas, and an ordained minister, which last two facts would take some of the sting out of his centrist record. There are other possibilities, too, but on the whole it's an academic exercise. GWB won't boot his veep unless Cheney has an actual health crisis, or Kerry has gotten so far ahead that no replacement will help.

Posted by: penalcolony | Jul 9, 2004 6:09:27 AM

Doesn't the McCain posturing now make it ever more difficult for Cheney to leave the ticket (for any reason aside from urgent health concerns)?

If Cheney steps down and McCain does not step in as VP, anyone else would look like a desperate second (third?) choice.

If McCain does step in he would be a loose cannon within the Bush camp and , despite his unique appeal to many, would be no better than Cheney at matching up against Mr "youthful optimism" in debate or on the stump.

Posted by: labish | Jul 9, 2004 2:49:03 PM

Doesn't the McCain posturing now make it ever more difficult for Cheney to leave the ticket (for any reason aside from urgent health concerns)?

If Cheney steps down and McCain does not step in as VP, anyone else would look like a desperate second (third?) choice.

If McCain does step in he would be a loose cannon within the Bush camp and , despite his unique appeal to many, would be no better than Cheney at matching up against Mr "youthful optimism" in debate or on the stump.

Posted by: labish | Jul 9, 2004 2:49:11 PM

Mark,

Re: Dumping Cheney?

Some California Republicans I know have their own Bush Rescue Plan: Fire Rumsfeld and shift Powell from State to Defense where he will fire Wolfowitz and re-institute the Powell Doctrine of Overwhelming Force. Dump Cheney and replace him with a sober realistic thinker like Dick Ligar. For Sec. of State, in order to repair relations with the rest of the world, we'd almost by definition need a Democrat. How about George Mitchell?

Posted by: Pat Reddy | Jul 9, 2004 4:02:36 PM

What about Cheney's health? Is it possible that his heart problem will prevent him from being on the Bush ticket? Are the Republicans hiding something about his health fearing that the monekey and his organ grinder are a solid team? And is Rusnsfeld permanently installed as a special advisor.

Posted by: | Jul 10, 2004 7:11:20 PM

I agree with the analysis that team Bush is in some sort of a stupor...one which they are unlikely to awaken from in time to save themselves in November.

In fact, I agree with many of the posts bandied about on this blog. But I have to say, I'm always bewildered by those strangely inserted side swipes at Dean which periodically appear. In this case:
and just as Dean emerged in the primaries because there were no other credible Democratic governors

Please. Dean emerged because he actually said something and people liked him. It had very little to do with the strength of the governor in Washington State. Or Kansas. Or anywhere else a democratic governor languishes.

Posted by: Bailey | Jul 13, 2004 2:46:36 AM

dating east indian secretary bondage free bondage story 100 free dating site adult dating chicago bdsm personals dating free online service totally ads agency dating personal african american matchmaking christian country singles swingers free personals matchmaking for christian singles christian online dating catholic singles club born again christian singles dating parent single site web agape christian singles teen dating online california christian singles south african dating web site dating and gay and youth jewish on line dating uk adult dating cupid dating online alabama matchmaking bikermatchmaking absolutely dating free gay personals gay online dating services extreme bondage discussion matchmaking christian singles retreat adult dating sexual dating personals picture services uk afro american single dating web site software gay singles vacation matchmaking service dating design site web manhunt gay personals agency dating software russian matchmaking adult dating site american idol single dating asian lady free online dating web site

Posted by: Ralph | Nov 11, 2004 1:08:23 AM