Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 2, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

IS CHENEY IS TROUBLE?....Robert Tagorda summarizes the reasons that George Bush might decide to dump Dick Cheney from the ticket:

Here's my tentative observation: Cheney represents two related problems. First, he has a bad image. Second, he gives Democrats a good target for criticism. Rudy and Condi can help fix the first, but they wouldn't necessarily solve the second. For instance, though they're significant improvements from a public-relations standpoint, they wouldn't really slow down the attacks on the jobless recovery.

On national security and foreign policy, they could do both: Rudy's post-9/11 performance still resonates with the public, while Condi has the professional qualifications. But how much would they add overall to the campaign? Bush is already strong on these fronts, and unless he can gain notably more voters by subtracting Cheney's Halliburton ties and WMD remarks (among others), I don't see how Republicans truly benefit from the change.

The "dump Cheney" rumors have been inexplicably strong for several weeks now, but I just don't buy it. Cheney is very popular with Bush's conservative base, his "bad" image is only bad among liberals like me, and it's awfully hard to get much traction in a campaign by attacking the vice president although it's certainly a possibility I find attractive.

What's more, the socially liberal, messily divorced Giuliani strikes me as an impossible fit for Bush, and Condi Rice hasn't exactly set the world on fire with her performance as national security adviser.

Then there's the damage it would cause. Unless they came up with a rock solid alibi, it would be a horrible admission of weakness as well as a tacit admission that Cheney's policies had been wrong, something that's just not in Bush's character. What is in Bush's character is almost Mafia-like loyalty, and there's no question that Cheney has been nothing if not loyal. Bush won't turn on him.

Finally, when was the last time a president running for reelection dumped his vice president? There was Ford in 1976, but that was more like Rockefeller dumping him than the other way around. Let's face it: if Dan Quayle managed to stay on the ticket, anybody can.

Maybe I'm missing something, but I just don't see this happening. Cheney is here to stay unless we vote his boss out of office in November.

Kevin Drum 7:50 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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