Dumping Mr. Cheney
I'm fuckin' going
Here, Peggy Noonan greasing the skids for Deadeye Dick:
But what are they thinking that they're not saying? Here's a hunch, based not on any inside knowledge but only on what I know of people who practice politics, and those who practice it within the Bush White House.First, the idea that dumping Cheney would save Bush is silly.
I suspect what they're thinking and not saying is, If Dick Cheney weren't vice president, who'd be a good vice president? They're thinking, At some time down the road we may wind up thinking about a new plan. And one night over drinks at a barbecue in McLean one top guy will turn to another top guy and say, "Under the never permeable and never porous Dome of Silence, tell me . . . wouldn't you like to replace Cheney?"
Why would they be thinking about this? It's not the shooting incident itself, it's that Dick Cheney has been the administration's hate magnet for five years now. Halliburton, energy meetings, Libby, Plamegate. This was not all bad for the White House: Mr. Cheney took the heat that would otherwise have been turned solely on George Bush. So he had utility, and he's experienced and talented and organized, and Mr. Bush admires and respects him. But, at a certain point a hate magnet can draw so much hate you don't want to hold it in your hand anymore, you want to drop it, and pick up something else. Is this fair? Nah. But fair has nothing to do with it.
This is a White House that likes to hit refresh when the screen freezes. Right now the screen is stuck, with poll numbers in the low 40s, or high 30s.
The key thing is Iraq. George Bush cares deeply about Iraq and knows his legacy will be decided there. It has surely dawned on the White House that "Iraq" will not be "over" in the next two years. Iraq is a long story. What Dick Armitage or Colin Powell said about the Pottery Barn rule was true: If you break it, you own it, at the very least for the next few years.
George Bush, and so the men and women around him, will want the next Republican presidential nominee to continue the U.S. effort in, and commitment to, Iraq. To be a candidate who will continue his policy, and not pull the plug, and burrow through.
This person will not be Dick Cheney, who has already said he doesn't plan to run. So Mr. Bush may feel in time that he has reason to want to put in a new vice president in order to pick a successor who'll presumably have an edge in the primaries--he's the sitting vice president, and Republicans still respect primogeniture. They will tend to make the common-sense assumption that a guy who's been vice president for, say, a year and a half, is a guy who already knows the top job. Anyway, the new guy will get a honeymoon, which means he won't be fully hated by the time the 2008 primaries begin.
his new vice president would, however, have to be very popular in the party, or the party wouldn't buy it. Replacing Mr. Cheney would be chancy. The new veep would have to get through the Senate, which has at this point at least three likely contenders for the nomination, at least two of whom who would not, presumably, be amused.
Plus there's more quiet anti-administration feeling in the party than is generally acknowledged, and the president's men know it. A lot of people would find such a move too cute by half. The contenders already in line--and their supporters, donors, fans, staff and friends in the press--would resent it. Big time.
People wouldn't like it . . . unless they liked it. How could they be persuaded to like it?
If Cheney goes, Bush would have to think hard that he's next.
Because Cheney was the brains of the operation and Bush, facing the loss of Cheney and Rove, would be at the mercy of his daddy's men. And he doesn't want that.
Obviously, this is a self-inflicted wound, Cheney's shooting, but it just adds to a pile of shit already facing them.
But this coming from Bush/Reagan loyalist Peggy "two martinis before noon" Noonan, means daddy's men see Dick as expendible and are passing the word around.
Before anyone starts dancing in the streets, they have to realize that Cheney would have to be shoved out of office. Whittington alone won't do it, unless he dies from something related to the shooting. But as they say, it's not the crime, but the coverup.
Instead of having his staff announce this, they handled it like a drunk driving accident with one of the Kings or Armstrongs involved. Which was a bad mistake.
His behavior is personally repellent in a way millions realize . He had to go to Fox because his silence was only making things worse, but that was hardly a grilling.
But Noonan doesn't get the obvious: Cheney goes, Rove indicted, the odds of Bush serving out his term shrink considerably. A lot of people might think: shit, let's dump him so we don't have him lingering around 2008, especially if Iraq goes from bad to civil war and US troops run to Kuwait.
So Cheney resigning is not just a change in management, but the beginning of the end. And for once, I'll be cautious here. Because if it happens, it's only the start of the collapse of the Bush Administration.
posted by Steve @ 10:40:00 AM