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April 23, 2006

The Three-Ring Circus Floats Some Trial Balloons

Shakes here...

Some Republicans are urging Bush to dump Cheney and replace him with Condi “if he is serious about presenting a new face to the jaded American public.”

Well, that’s certainly a big if, but okay, I’ll play along.

One Republican strategist, who did not want to be named, said: “If I were Bush I would think of changing Cheney. It is one of the few substantial things he can do to change the complexion of his administration. The rest is nibbling around the edges.”

I’m going to give our unnamed Republican strategist the benefit of the doubt and chalk up “change the complexion” to an unfortunate word choice.

Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard magazine and author of Rebel in Chief, a sympathetic new biography of Bush…said he believed Cheney would be willing to stand down in order to help Bush. “It’s unlike Bush to dump somebody whom he likes and respects,” he cautioned. “But the president needs to do something shocking and dramatic such as putting in Condoleezza Rice.”

Critics of Barnes’ book have widely questioned his designation of Bush as a “rebel,” but, personally, I’ve always questioned the “in Chief” part—a doubtfulness recently bolstered by Robert Dreyfuss’ Vice Squad, which draws a portrait of Cheney and his office that inevitably leaves one wondering who really runs the show. Cheney’s influence over this administration’s decisions can be tracked from the moment he was tasked with selecting Bush's running mate and subsequently selected himself, right through to the current unrelenting secrecy about everything emanating from the veep's office—including, bizarrely, even who works there—and the bullying and spying performed on behalf of the vice president by his mysterious and true-believing staff. It reads as nothing less than a playbook of a coup that most of America has failed to notice. And Bush comes across like the manipulated buffoon wholly ignorant of important details that he often appears to be.

[O]fficials who have opposed Cheney believe that President Bush has "views" only about basic principles, and that in making dozens of complex decisions he relies on pre-determined staff papers. Says one insider deeply involved in U.S. policy toward North Korea: "The president is given only the most basic notions about the Korea issue. They tell him, 'Above South Korea is a country called North Korea. It is an evil regime.' … So that translates into a presidential decision: Why enter into any agreement with an evil regime?"

So who’s right? Is it Barnes—who believes Bush has it in him to cast Cheney aside? Or is it Dreyfuss—who suggests that Cheney’s the true power behind the throne, making the thought of Bush shitcanning his ass nearly inconceivable?

The truth probably falls somewhere in between. Bush may be The Decider, but relies so heavily on the counsel of trusted sources that he can’t really make a decision without it first having been carefully placed in his head by clever manipulators who know how to leave him with the impression the idea was his own. Cheney has undoubtedly filled that role for much of his administration; whether he goes may well be contingent upon Bush’s continued allegiance to him. If he’s got a new devil sitting on his shoulder, expect Cheney’s health to require his retirement in the not too distant future.

April 23, 2006 | Permalink


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» Things that make you go hmmm from August J. Pollak - xoverboard.com
Shakes links to this week's article about "Some Republicans" who are suggesting Dick Cheney resign and be replaced with Condoleeza Rice. While it's almost as amusing as listening to all those Republicans who knew, just knew that Hillary Clinton was... [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 23, 2006 6:57:49 PM

» Things that make you go hmmm from August J. Pollak - xoverboard.com
Shakes links to this week's article about "Some Republicans" who are suggesting Dick Cheney resign and be replaced with Condoleeza Rice. While it's almost as amusing as listening to all those Republicans who knew, just knew that Hillary Clinton was... [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 23, 2006 10:58:46 PM


Nice in theory, but since Cheney does in fact appear to be W's boss in all but name, it's hard to see him getting the axe.

Posted by: CWren | Apr 23, 2006 1:33:22 PM

Cheney being in the driver's seat is about the only thing that adds up in this administration's deeds...Bush doesn't seem to have the imagination or sense of direction that Cheney has, corrupt though it may be. Bush clearly likes being president, but can't pull it off without Cheney.

Posted by: Steve Mudge | Apr 23, 2006 1:44:03 PM

I agree that's it's hard to see Cheney "getting the axe" or "being shitcanned" as Bush can't fire him. It's in the constitution.

Posted by: Jacob | Apr 23, 2006 2:07:51 PM

Does it matter at all that Rice is as incompetent as anyone else in the administration? What qualifications would she bring to the position of vice president (if she couldn't take over as the president's string-puller) other than fitting right in with all of the other screw-ups?

Sorry. Answered my own question.

Posted by: Zeno | Apr 23, 2006 2:16:04 PM

Bush can't fire him. It's in the constitution.

Yes, but ignoring such literal-mindedness, there are plenty of people who technically resign, though we all know they were forced out.

Posted by: Shakespeare's Sister | Apr 23, 2006 3:09:28 PM

When the actual story (years down the line) of what Cheney has been up to and his control over administration policy is finally told, we may need to rethink the conventional wisdom that a VP choice is something for only the President (and his election handlers) need worry about.

Constitutionally the VP has only one duty: presiding over the Senate. In practice, Gore and Cheney have both been given great latitude by Clinton and Bush II, but only Cheney seems to have run a rogue operation that actually is controlling policy. It is very clear that the National Security Advisor, the Secretary of State and others have been clearly subordinated to the office of the VP.

The fact that we can't tell for sure if Cheney controls Bush or vice versa tells us almost all we need to know: this is a major rewrite in practice of the Constitution - seemingly without accountability.

Whether Bush could exert enough pressure on Cheney to obtain a resignation seems clear enough - undoubtedly he could if Bush had any manly balls. All he'd need to do is tell others to ignore the VP and his office.

Bush won't reign-in Cheney. Bush's idea of loyalty is perverted to the degree that the national interest is not a consideration, his own political effectiveness is subordinated, and the electoral needs of the Rethug party are left wanting.

Bush also has lots of secrets to hide as well: the real story on the Bush administration.

It is possible that Bush and Cheney would attempt to extend their kind of control for and over the Republicans but putting a Rovian thumb on the scales to appoint a new VP as a leg-up on the 08 elections process. Cheney would be involved, not on the sidelines.

The interesting question is who Bush, Cheney and Rove will bless and help as Rethug candidate for 08. It will have to be more than someone who can win, but also someone to carry on the policies that Bush and Cheney established. And, most importantly, someone who will not cooperate to get out the real story of what happened in Bush's two terms. That is the 'family jewels'.

With those considerations in mind, I don't see McCain, Gulliani or Romney as their choice. Maybe Condi, maybe Jeb. No one else could be trusted. Especially on the questions of pardons and indictments for Bush and Cheney.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Apr 23, 2006 3:36:59 PM

Woooo... The LA Times calls for Cheney's resignation and the firing of Rumsfeld.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Apr 23, 2006 3:58:49 PM

Leaving aside for the moment the lack of any precedent for a vice-president just up and resigning because the administration is in trouble, I really can't imagine that such a thing would benefit Bush in anything but the very short term. It would be seen as an extreme version of Jimmy Carter's shake-up in the summer of 1979, which was meant to signal a president retaking command and ended up conveying the exact opposite.

I won't even get into why anyone would think that another promotion for one of the architects of the Bush foreign policy would make any sense (not that I expect sense from Fred Barnes typically). The rap on the administration has been "too many sycophants", so you get rid of Cheney and install the biggest suck-up of them all? Republicans love Rice, or rather the idea of Rice, but after the initial praise died down people would realize she's as incompetent as the rest.

Posted by: Charlie T. | Apr 23, 2006 4:42:06 PM

Charlie T: But Condi has one major asset: she's an accomplished liar in public - even before Congress. You can tell she's lying when her mouth is moving.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Apr 23, 2006 4:50:51 PM

REgarding Jeb, as I understand it any unelected VP has to be approved by the Senate. I'm not so sure that Jeb could get that approval. Condi probably could.

Posted by: JWC | Apr 23, 2006 5:46:23 PM

He can't make her VP....

The Chris Rock rule would come in effect.

"There will never be a black VP, because some brother would shoot the President. I'd do it myself, I would be a hero in the jailhouse"

Not an exact quote, but close enough.

Posted by: Bruce from Missouri | Apr 23, 2006 7:36:13 PM

I'd replace Cheney with somebody who could put the President on his knee and explain the immigration law to him. It's bad enough that ivory-tower, left-wing bloggers pretend not to understand the system, but the president of the most-developed and sophisticated country on earth? It makes no sense.

America is wise to this hoax, let's enforce the law and punish employers of illegals and remove these foreigners who fail to respect our law.

I guess I'm saying that Cheney and Bush are too LIBERAL for my liking. Are sure ya'll understand.

Posted by: NoIllegalAlienLeftBehind | Apr 23, 2006 10:27:18 PM

--Charlie T: But Condi has one major asset: she's an accomplished liar in public - even before Congress. You can tell she's lying when her mouth is moving.--

Portland Jim,

You are one racist MoFo! You're talking about an African-American Secretary of State, you know!? What has this country come to?

Posted by: smokin | Apr 23, 2006 10:32:09 PM

Though it would be great to see Cheney go. It will never happen. It would damage the White House and Republicans too much. And to replace with Condi...great, replace one person with no conscience with another person with no conscience. plus who would be the butt of our jokes...oh wait Bush. My bad. Don't get me wrong. It would be good to clean out the Administration. Reminds me of something I heard again this weekend...'What this town (Washington DC in this case) needs is an enema'

Posted by: Joel | Apr 23, 2006 10:46:49 PM

What has this country come to?

Are you saying African American Secretaries of State can't lie? Or just African Americans in general?

Posted by: Adrock | Apr 24, 2006 2:26:33 PM

"The fact that we can't tell for sure if Cheney controls Bush or vice versa tells us almost all we need to know: this is a major rewrite in practice of the Constitution - seemingly without accountability."

One need not go back too far, just to the Iran/Contra scandals, to understand that the institutional flaw lies in lack of oversight over the National Security Council. Now when you have a Congress and Presidency as corrupt as partisan as this one, all bets are off, and no laws or processes will actually inhibit people who have contempt for them and the power to express that contempt.

Now however well the Founders might have codified constraints within the Constitution...and I believe those constraints could be adequate if vigorously exercised by Congress and the courts...the Executive promoting and abusing its military perogatives and foreign policy adventurism became the practice as soon as many of those same founders held the reins of power.
Monarchism is always a greater danger than anarchy.

The founders offered a self-constraint by opposing a large professional military. Gore Vidal, for all his faults and excesses, has documented the rise of the National Security State after WWII, and attributes many if not all of America's problems to that self-perpetuating institution. With a professional military, we are in much the position Britain was in the 19th century...a beast that must be fed with the wrong kind of Empire created and paranoid enemies to be discovered.
Expenses that can be paid only by conquest, a populace nationalized and chauvinized out of persuasion of pacifists. Reference various Boer and African and Indian military actions which were not unpopular. The best bet is to divide responsibility as widely as possible, by creating a citizen army rather than a professional one.

An Empire has no more choice as to what it is than a nation, they usually simply arise. And it does not voluntarily retreat or withdraw or dissolve. It must be defeated and destroyed. America will no more give up hegemony over the ME than we would give California back to Mexico.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Apr 24, 2006 3:20:57 PM

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