Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Cheney Resignation Watch?

I'm a sucker for this sort of prognostication, even when it's not for somebody I despise like Dick Cheney. The basic rationale for Cheney to resign would be that the Libby conviction and associated scandal taint the administration, and Cheney's continued problems with his circulatory system offer an easy excuse. If Cheney's a liability, then forcing him into early retirement, the reasoning goes, would help rid the administration and the Republican party of excess baggage. The problem is that whether or not it would be in Cheney's health interest to resign, everybody would know that it's all about trying to save face for the White House.

But I'd be pretty surprised if it happened; Bush and Cheney are pretty darned stubborn. And it's not like Agnew's resignation (yes, I know it was an unrelated scandal) saved the Nixon administration. It would be a calculated risk on the Republicans' part, but it's hard not to see the Democrats relishing a "Vice President resigned in scandal" tag to hang on the Republicans in the election.

I'd suppose it's possible, but unless Cheney himself were indicted in a criminal investigation, I don't really see it happening. Maybe a 20% chance.

For the sake of argument, though, let's say he did resign. The big juicy question is who gets appointed Veep. I say it's Condoleezza Rice. As Mark Daniels says in the article I linked to above, putting somebody already running for President into the Veep's chair would rub a lot of people the wrong way, both within the GOP and outside of it. Appointing some old retired guy who basically wouldn't be doing anything besides taking up space might be the safe option, but it would hardly do anything to help the President, would belie any claims about Cheney's resignation being about health reasons, and would essentially mean that Bush would be flying solo. If Dick Cheney's pulling the strings at the White House, it'd be tough on the President to kick out Dick and say, "Congratulations, Dubya, you're on your own now!" With Rice he gets a trusted advisor who isn't entirely disliked by the American public and isn't likely to run for President, and as a bonus the Republicans get to pull a little bit of the rug out from the Democrats by appointing the first woman and the first black person to the Vice Presidency.

At this point, though, I don't think Cheney will resign.

AND ALSO: Lieberman? Barf.

UPDATE: Ari Emanuel over at the Huffington Post (I must admit that I giggle inside when Taranto says "Puffington Host") predicted a couple weeks ago that Cheney will be out and Rice will be in, along with a few other things. I think that his first two predictions are likely to be true (McCain* will not be the Republican nominee, Hillary will not be the Democratic nominee), but I'm still not sold on Cheney resigning. Remember how long it took for Rumsfeld to go?

*Who was it who first called McCain a MINO (Maverick in Name Only)? Ouch.

Somebody brings up the idea of Jeb as a Veep appointee. I suppose it's possible, but there's only so much nepotism people can stand (c.f. Hillary).

If Rice were to become V.P. (through whatever means), I'd still only give her maybe a 35% chance of even running for the nomination. I just don't think she's the type who'd want to run for office like that.

The third commenter on Emanuel's blog predicts that Al Gore will be drafted to run, will win the nomination, and will win the election. I doubt it; it would only happen if the Democratic frontrunners are all in serious trouble; he wouldn't run against Hillary and his newfound rockstar status doesn't beat Obama's. All it would do is drag up hoary old memories of the 2000 election. I do think he'd be a prime choice for a cabinet post, like Energy or Interior.


At Tuesday, March 6, 2007 at 5:45:00 PM PST, Blogger Ryan said...

Even someone as dim as Bush has to know that he's about to get thrown under the bus by the GOP. And let's not mention the Dems, who have their artillery aimed squarely at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Bush has got to do something to salvage his last twenty months. Only trouble is, the big issue, Iraq, is out of his control. The only thing he can control is personnel. On that score, I would think that (1) canning Cheney; (2) promoting Rice to VP; (3) bringing on some hawkish establishment Dem as Secretary of State (Sam Nunn, maybe?) might be a good thing. This kind of bipartisan gesture might stave off the Dem wolves for a little while and give him sufficiently good press coverage to bump his poll numbers to ~40%, which will make him less toxic to the GOP running for office in 2008.

Otherwise, a 30% prez mired in scandal and a disastrous war will be a big target for everybody in the next two years. It would make a whole lotta sense for Bush to cut Cheney loose and blame the Administration's troubles on him. It makes so much sense that it's all but certain that Bush won't do it.

At Tuesday, March 6, 2007 at 6:46:00 PM PST, Blogger Adam Villani said...

Note that Bush can't directly can Cheney; the Veep has to resign or be removed from office by Congress.

Of course, that's not to say Bush couldn't gently persuade Dick to retire.

Either way, the two of them are too obstinate to quit.

The problem from the Bush Administration's point of view is that if Cheney goes and they cozy up to the Dems, then they're admitting they fucked up and that makes them easy, weak targets. They know that, and they won't do it. Hence, "Stay the course" and another 22 months of piss-poor leadership.

At Wednesday, March 7, 2007 at 7:43:00 AM PST, Anonymous Erich said...

I was listening to KFWB yesterday morning and I heard that Bush had said something like he "respects the jury's verdict" in the Libby case. That to me is code for "we're hanging him out to dry" and that they've now washed their hands of the matter.

Over the years I've heard many people say "hey, if we had term limits, elected officials would finally be beholden to no outside interests and could do whatever they felt was right for the country!" Well, now we're seeing what can actually happen in that case.

At Wednesday, March 7, 2007 at 10:12:00 AM PST, Blogger Adam Villani said...

Sheesh... term limits. Maybe there's a place for them, but in California all that's happened is that we get a bunch of politicians jumping around from office to office. This past November our very competent Assemblywoman made the jump to... the State Board of Equalization. And her husband took over her Assembly seat. How does that serve us? Just leave her in the state legislature where she can do some good.

One more thing--- what's the point of having a 40-member State Senate and an 80-member State Assembly? The ratio is too small; the two bodies just duplicate each others' functions. Vermont's 30-upper, 150-lower legislature is a better idea, and New Hampshire's 24/400 split is the best example of this idea. The idea is that the upper house has the professional legislators, the career politicians, etc., while the representative in the lower house is the farmer who said something sensible at the town meeting.


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