The Drumbeat to Dump the Veep
Patrick J. Buchanan
July 21 2004
Asked if he was thinking of dumping Vice President
Cheney, President Bush is said to have laughed aloud. He is right to do so.
For this is a game concocted by pundits with other agendas than his
"Dump the Veep" has long been a hobby of the chattering classes. Once,
however, in 1944, it was critical to the nation. And America owes a debt to
those Democrats who realized FDR was a terribly sick man whose vice president
would be in the Oval Office in months, not years. Three months after FDR's
fourth inauguration, Harry Truman was sworn in.
Had Henry Wallace, vice president before 1945, stayed on and taken office that
April, Harry Dexter White might have become secretary of the treasury and
Lawrence Duggan secretary of state. This would have put two Soviet spies at
the pinnacle of the U.S. government to shape postwar policy toward Stalin, in
whose service both were then secretly enlisted.
In recent Republican administrations, only President Bush's father escaped a
media clamor for his defenestration in 1984. Mondale-Ferraro simply did not
cause the nervousness that Kerry-Edwards does today.
In 1955, however, after Dwight Eisenhower's heart attack, close advisers like
Sherman Adams, fearing Ike might not finish a second term, urged him to dump
Richard Nixon. Ike himself twice suggested to Nixon that he might want to get
executive experience in the Cabinet before running in 1960.
After months of waiting for Ike to move, Nixon forced the issue, and Ike
declared himself pleased Nixon wanted to remain as veep. As though there was
In the early 1960s, there was talk among the Kennedy clan for the dumping of
LBJ, who seemed not at home either in the vice presidency or on the New
Frontier. The blood was especially bad between Robert Kennedy and LBJ. Then
came Dallas, and the Kennedy era was over.
In 1972, there was a move to dump Spiro Agnew, and it was no secret Nixon felt
John Connally of Texas was the man with the stature and brains to lead the
nation after he departed. But Nixon knew that, should he drop Agnew, a hero to
conservatives for his attacks on anti-war radicals and the liberal press, he
would tear the party apart. Moreover, it would be an admission that Nixon
himself had blundered in choosing Agnew.
In 1992, Dan Quayle was under constant attack, especially after the "Murphy
Brown" episode, as being less than presidential timber. Bush I kept Quayle,
and went down to defeat, though observers felt Quayle easily out-pointed Al
Gore in the veep debate. That George W. Bush has not given his father's vice
president a role of responsibility or visibility suggests the president may
reflect the family's second thoughts on Poppy's choice.
Since Henry Wallace, then, 60 years ago, no vice president has been dumped,
and though Bush has no intention of dropping Cheney, he would be making a
perhaps terminal blunder should he do so.
Dumping Cheney would be seen as an admission that Bush's enemies were right,
that Cheney, who has been both devotedly loyal and the most influential vice
president in history, had failed or was no longer up to the job and must be
moved out of the line of succession.
Yet, even his enemies do not doubt Cheney's capacity. Hence, the only
believable rationale for dumping him would be that Bush and Karl Rove had
concluded Cheney carries so much baggage they cannot carry him over the top in
November. But if Cheney is baggage, the sole reason is the role he played in
pushing for and preparing for war on Iraq.
But, as America knows, the final decision on that war was not made by Dick
Cheney. Thus, dumping him would be an admission the war was ill-conceived and
has turned out so badly its co-architect must be cashiered.
What would this say about the man who oversaw the planning and who approved
the blueprints – the president of the United States?
Bush and Cheney are Siamese twins. Separate them, and neither may survive. And
why risk it? Whom would Bush replace Cheney with? The names promoted are those
of Colin Powell, Rudy Giuliani and Condi Rice.
But Rice is a policy wonk and political novice, and Powell and Rudy hold views
on social issues such as right-to-life that are unacceptable to the GOP's
conservative-Christian base. Dumping Cheney for any of the three would mean a
fight and a walkout in New York.
John McCain fits the bill philosophically, and, should Bush dump Cheney for
McCain, he would, initially, get wonderful press. But for Bush to put McCain
first in line to succeed him in 2008 would ignite an immediate succession
battle, and a fight in front of the TV cameras in New York, if not right on
the convention floor.
Bush would also have to explain why he traded in a younger vice president who
was loyal for an older senator who has bedeviled him. A charge of cynicism
would be laid at the president's feet, and he would spend September answering
it, as Cheney was converted into a victim of Bushite ingratitude.
Moreover, how would Bush enjoy having John McCain sitting across from him at
every meeting of the Cabinet and National Security Council?
No way. Cheney's the one.
© 2004 Creators
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