Tuesday, November 28, 2006

CQ Analyst Engages in Silly Speculation on Cheney

ThinkProgress catches 'CQ analyst' and general talking head Craig Crawford in some silly speculation about Dick Cheney's future. This isn't a particular slam against Crawford; if you go on Chris Matthews's show you are inherently doing something silly. So Crawford was just acting the part:

CRAWFORD: Again, I gotta ask, where does that leave Dick Cheney if the neocons are heading for the hills. Where does he end up in this administration?

MATTHEWS: I know what he does. He moves out to the eastern shore of Maryland and waits there like [indecipherable] with a gun. And he waits until the next administration comes into office. If it’s a Republican administration — like McCain — he has a lot of influence. If it’s a Democratic administration, he starts coming on programs like this. He won’t be on this show, but like this.

CRAWFORD: I still wonder if he stays in this administration for the full term here. I really wonder if Rumsfeld’s leaving is just the beginning.

MATTHEWS: Well, who is showing up with the Ryder truck at his home. Who’s gonna get him out?

CRAWFORD: He has to make the choice himself. He can’t be fired, technically, under the Constitution.

MATTHEWS: Why would he leave?

HARWOOD: As Bill Clinton once said, the Constitution makes him relevant for at least the two years. I don’t think he will go anywhere.

CRAWFORD: My point is I don’t know why he’d want to stick around.

MATTHEWS: He has assumed an awful lot of authority under this President.

CRAWFORD: I know, and that authority is waning, if not gone. And my point is why would he want to stick around in this environment? He might just choose to leave.

MATTHEWS: Let me check this. I rarely do this on the show. Are you teasing? Are you — do you actually think there’s a reasonable plausible case for this Vice President to give up all the power he enjoys as the President’s first counsel?

CRAWFORD: Not if he doesn’t enjoy it anymore. I mean all I’m seeing is the man getting isolated more and more. This seems to be his most vulnerable position in the entire Bush administration.

The silly thing here is not to speculate that Cheney might leave the administration; it's certainly not beyond the realm of possibility. The silly part is the entire framework of the question.

Cheney is not going to leave because he is or is not relevant and influential. Is there any question but that he will do whatever George Bush wants of him - stay, or go?

One of the unique things about Cheney is that he is a Vice President who has no interest in running for President. He is probably the only Vice President of whom that has ever been true. ANY other Republican that Bush nominated to replace Cheney as VP would be a presumed contender for the Republican nomination in 2008. He or she would be the perceived 'Bush pick' as his successor, with all the advantages and disadvantages that confers. To date, Bush has shown no intention of wanting to give anyone a 'leg-up' on the Presidency.

Furthermore, what would the Senate process for considering his replacement look like? Do you think that the dozen Senators considering Presidential runs would give Condoleezza Rice, or Rudy Giuliani, or Tommy Thompson, or even John McCain an easy time? They would make the process difficult, and would try to ensure that the new Veep got embarrassed - or worse - during the process. How would that affect Bush's efforts to ensure he has a legacy?

The question is not 'is Cheney bored,' or whatever Crawford construes it to be. It is 'has Bush changed his mind about annointing a successor.' If so, then Cheney will resign. If not, he will stay Vice President.

Cheney serves at the pleasure of the President, and if he's grown utterly bored and feels irrelevant, he can effectively retire from the Vice Presidency without the inconvenience of a succession fight. He can go off to Jackson Hole, or Texas, or the Eastern Shore, or wherever - and he can have the traditional role of all previous Vice Presidents - none. Or funeral attender, maybe.

To act as if Cheney serves on a whim, or that he is easily replaced, is silly.

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