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Why Cheney?

We're way behind in implementing the Chait Policy this week, and I have to say that I think the man's wrong, wrong, wrong about why the "Draft Cheney '09" movement is taking hold:

The main difference is that eight years ago conservatives were looking for an amiable front man and today they're looking for ideological reliability. Cheney's supporters fear a repeat of the George H.W. Bush administration, in which, they believe, an ideologically fainthearted successor betrayed the purity of the Reagan revolution. Cheney obviously presents a low risk of ideological deviation. As Barnes delicately puts it, Cheney "helped Bush formulate" his agenda.
I don't buy it. For one thing, to call Bushism an "ideology" is a disgrace to ideologies everywhere -- it's not much more than corruption and thirst for power. But here's the real point. As I've been arguing on-and-off for some time, the problem is that the GOP agenda will run aground this term unless there's an official Republican Establishment Standard-Bearer. If several different credibly mainstream conservatives start battling out against each other (a maverick candidacy à la McCain in 2000 is fine) it'll be impossible to keep the team together in the legislative fights of 2007, 2008, and maybe even 2006. People will be jostling against one another -- competing for the nomination, trying to gain the gratitude of the different contenders, etc. -- and Bush will wind up with a very acute case of lame duck syndrome. Cheney isn't a particularly good choice to fill the role of Official Successor, but as Vice President he's really the only person who can play that role. Keep in mind that you need to go all the way back to 1952 to find a party that controls the White House nominating anyone besides the incumbent Vice President. This is a move the GOP will be forced to make, whether they like it or not.

March 26, 2005 | Permalink

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"Draft Cheney '09"

Sounds good to me...let them think the election is in '09 rather than '08!

Posted by: tomf | Mar 26, 2005 10:18:47 PM

OT:
OT, but anyone who wants to get into fantasy baseball, I've set up the Darwin League. Yahoo fantasy baseball. fantasysports.yahoo.com

ID# is 273292

Password is darwin

Posted by: krusty | Mar 26, 2005 10:20:15 PM

You don't get it Matt, there is a "policy", a common ground: hatred of what the sixties represented. Hate the drugs, hate the Nixon-bashers, hate the anti-war crowd, hate the free sex, hate the feminists, hate the anti-authoritarianism, just hate the sixties. Peace, dude.

The hippies were right.

Posted by: epistemology | Mar 26, 2005 10:27:23 PM

Draft Duncan Black - Pennsylvania 7th Congressional District - 2006!

Posted by: foo | Mar 26, 2005 10:32:29 PM

What amazes me is how horribly bad all the names the Republicans float as possible candidates for Pres in '08. They are all far right nutjobs or lacking in personality or the correct gender or race (Rice) without even the redeeming aw shucks false charm of George Bush (who at least pretends to be moderate as he sells a far right agenda). Frist, Cheney, you can't be serious.

Posted by: Freder Frederson | Mar 26, 2005 11:06:39 PM

What amazes me is how horribly bad all the names the Republicans float as possible candidates for Pres in '08.

Apparently, you don't remember how bad a candidate G-Dub looked to be back in '99.

Posted by: bobo brooks | Mar 26, 2005 11:21:59 PM

Maybe Cheney will be a placeholder, a means to hold the party together until late 2007, at which point he drops out for health reasons. This really won't work, for the long lead time needed to raise money and build the organization forces Frist and McCain to an early start.

The fact that Cheney is mentioned means Repubs have no intention of running to the center, but only in holding their base, and picking up a swing state or two. If this is the way they win, any other candidates would have to try to out-wingnut each other to get the nomination.

If you think this means good chances for Dems, the names being mentioned...Hilary, Edwards, Kerry...suck even worse. Hell, I bet Lieberman runs.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Mar 26, 2005 11:35:46 PM

"Cheney isn't a particularly good choice to fill the role of Official Successor, but as Vice President he's really the only person who can play that role."

I'd disagree that Cheney is the only person who can play that role.

Because the Rove machine is occupying the WH, with all the party organizing resources inherent in that, they will be able to designate a non-Cheney Official Successor without much problem.

The anointed one will be rolled out soon after the 2006 elections, and we will all immediately know who that anointed one is. My money is on Romney or McCain.

But the point is that while unifying around the VP is normal because of its convenience, it's not necessary as long as the unifying occurs around someone.

Posted by: Petey | Mar 26, 2005 11:53:14 PM

Isn't Cheney older now than Reagan was when he ran?

I predict two things for 2008:

1) The Democrats get back the WhiteHouse. Narrowly.
2) The candidate who won, due to the mess that they'll be taking over, the lack of decent candidates, and the GOP majority still left in place in congress, will be so awful that even the most loyal of Democrats will wish in retrospect that they lost.

Though, I'm a libertarian (who is most likely not voting at all) so feel free to take that with a grain of salt.

Posted by: b-psycho | Mar 26, 2005 11:54:26 PM

It's only 2005. Guys like Barnes just think they should curtsy in Cheney's direction to show their fealty to the Bush regime, and prove their uber-Bushist bona fides before they go on to back the real nominee later. It's eminently safe for them to back Cheney because they know he's not going to get the nod.

Posted by: Dan Kervick | Mar 27, 2005 12:28:08 AM

You don't get it Matt, there is a "policy", a common ground: hatred of what the sixties represented.

Bingo. This is the closest thing conservatives have to a unifying ideology nowadays, and it's been going on for some time. Hell, this article from 1998 (written by Mr. Bowtie) identifies Bush and Ashcroft as the power players in the GOP largely on the basis of their hatred of the '60s and their appeal to people who hate the '60s.

As one who agrees with Eric Cartman that hippies suck, I think some of the anti-'60s stuff is okay in theory, but it's a crappy excuse for an ideology. (Liberals are starting to get over the '80s, yet the right still can't get over the '60s. And they say liberals are into emotionalism?) But the point is that no matter who the GOP nominates, as far as he's concerned, it'll still be 1969 and we still have to get rid of those hippies. Goddamn hippies.

Posted by: M.A. | Mar 27, 2005 12:29:00 AM

I'm a big fan of Draft Cheney.

If the movement comes to fruition the GOP will be stuck with a terrible candidate who has very little chance of winning.

If it doesn't, and it won't, it proves to be a distraction that undermines the position of whomever gets the nod.

A win either way.

Posted by: SamAm | Mar 27, 2005 12:36:18 AM

Man. The true sign of a lame duck president isn't the jockeying in his party to be the "successor," it's bored Washingtonians playing fantasy football for an election almost 4 years away.

If Republicans have a hard time getting things done in the next few years, it won't be due to a lack of a so-called successor. Eventually the Bush people will line up behind their person, and that person will likely be the nominee. Whether or not that person happen to be vice president matters not one bit to the party's fortunes.

Posted by: Erik | Mar 27, 2005 12:38:48 AM

"My money is on Romney or McCain."

It sure won't be either one of those guys. McCain is cosnervative enough in some ways, but too reality-based--not to mention that his occasional independence is regarded as treason by the true believers.

Romney, believe it or not, is too much the Massachussets liberal. The Mormon thing will repulse a lot of the fundamentalist base, too.

Posted by: rea | Mar 27, 2005 12:49:49 AM

"It sure won't be either one of those guys. McCain is cosnervative enough in some ways, but too reality-based--not to mention that his occasional independence is regarded as treason by the true believers."

The "true believers" are going to be 5 guys sitting around the Roosevelt Room. They're going to make the decision, and it's going to stick. Their long-running rift with McCain and Weaver was patched up 10 months ago. Who knows if they'll trust him enough to actually go with him, but he is on a very, very short list.

"Romney, believe it or not, is too much the Massachussets liberal. The Mormon thing will repulse a lot of the fundamentalist base, too."

I just participated in a long thread here with lots of folks who are convinced Romney is too liberal and too LDS affiliated, and I'll just say that that those who hold that view don't have a clue what's actually going on.

The 5 guys who will be sitting around the Roosevelt Room making the actual decision want Romney, and that's all that matters. Romney is spending 2005 and 2006 on a road show reaching out to the base, and as long as he doesn't fail that test, I think the machine may well go with him instead of McCain.

Posted by: Petey | Mar 27, 2005 1:13:59 AM

Rea-

I just participated in a long thread here with lots of folks who are convinced Romney is too liberal and too LDS affiliated, and I'll just say that that those who hold that view don't have a clue what's actually going on.

Can you link to that thread please? As a MA expat I'd love a little insight. I just DON'T understand the Romney thing. At all. In the least.

Posted by: Cate | Mar 27, 2005 1:27:48 AM

Sorry, I meant Petey...

Posted by: Cate | Mar 27, 2005 1:28:54 AM

"Isn't Cheney older now than Reagan was when he ran?"

He is now 64. Reagan turned 70 shortly after being inaugurated. Thank you Wikipedia.

Posted by: Allen K. | Mar 27, 2005 1:46:09 AM

I thought the rumor-mill had Cheney suffering congestive heart failure (remember him buying bigger shoes?) He won't run. He's not up to it.

This is the usual Rove sleight-of-hand. He doesn't want our attention of something or somebody else. (Maybe Rove himself. How's that for a sobering thought?)

Posted by: cmac | Mar 27, 2005 1:46:46 AM

What is the Romney constituency? What groups does he appeal to? Hell, what group does he appeal to? Liberal Mormons? Conservative Northeasterners? People who look terribly smug in pictures?

Five guys is a way to make a hamburger. It is not a way to pick a nominee for president, especially one whose background raises so many red flags with the people who have to swallow the choice and like it. The conditions that allowed Bush to be picked and sold to the public were a once in a decade thing. The GOP was lucky to have him available. But their 08 bench is looking Democratic weak right now.

It is just beyond my comprehension how anyone can look at Mitt farking Romney and see the next Republican President, or even the next nominee.

Posted by: SamAm | Mar 27, 2005 1:46:57 AM

the hippies...

Most people were pretty conservative in the sixties. WW2 finally rid the planet of 150 years of Euro-bickering although the hangover of that lasted another 15 years or so. Despite the Cold War, things were looking up by 1960. Technology was becoming more sophisticated, travel was cheaper, new ideas were in the air, the whole western culture deserved a fresh look. Yet generally, getting a good job, buying a house, raising a family were what the majority wished for.

"The Hippies" were a media-magnetic youth phenomenon using the language of 40's and 50's beatniks, the iconoclasms of early century modernists and surreallists, fuelled by an inspired electrified soundtrack based mostly on African-American music from the previous fifty years. It was cool and colorful but that's all it was. Not too much political change was engineered by actual walking, talking hippies. They were dropouts, remember. The raging protests got a lot of press but the Vietnam war went on. It even escalated as the protests fizzled out. It's romantic now to think that hippies somehow changed the course of American foreign policy but it was old-fashioned suit-and-tie politicians and bureaucrats who quit that war, letting it run until the last disastrous minute.

Certain Republicans hate the fact that America "lost" a war so they childishly blame the hippies. Certain liberals celebrate the hippies as if a fantastic context-free revolutionary awakening suddenly blossomed in mid-century America but weren't they were just another fashion and music fad? Why are people to this day still getting mileage out of "the hippies"?

Posted by: bullhead | Mar 27, 2005 2:12:19 AM

Pardon my italics....

Posted by: bullhead | Mar 27, 2005 2:13:56 AM

Dems should fear Cheney. In spite of his appalling politics, he has this gruff, avuncular charm that seems to appeal to a lot of people.

Posted by: julian | Mar 27, 2005 2:26:13 AM

Nobody planned it this way, but the habit we have of appointing the vice presidents makes it nearly certain that a party who gets eight years of the presidency will lose it. Why? Because the VP has never faced the test of electability. Look at the history of 2-term VPs. Nixon was a joke who could never have gotten the nomination without the giant boost he was given by the VP office. Bush-1 did get one term, but he never seemed like a real president, more like the national punch line. Gore was a swell fellow, but people just didn't like him. He tried for the presidential nomination once on his own, don't forget, and was rejected. Same with Cheney. No way Jabba the Hut, with a heart problem yet, can be elected. A real candidate has to pay his dues in the political marketplace, survive elections, fight his way to the top. Only a person who has been passed on by millions of Americans can be a viable candidate. Pray foe Cheney's nomination by acclimation.

Posted by: James of DC | Mar 27, 2005 3:38:06 AM

Can you link to that thread please? As a MA expat I'd love a little insight. I just DON'T understand the Romney thing. At all. In the least.

http://yglesias.typepad.com/matthew/2005/03/sad_but_true.html

As to "Why Romney", the short answer is that you'll have to ask Bush and Rove. Because they've got a term-limited sitting President with a VP who's not running, they can pick absolutely anyone they like who the base won't veto. And for whatever reason, they seem to be very high on Romney, and think they can sell him to the base.

The long answer is, well, longer. As far as I can tell, their thinking is something like this:

They want a winner, and they think Romney is a winner. They know that a conservative without the compassionate part of the equation won't sell. They want to attack the Democrats northern base and try to peel away states like NH, PA, MI, WI, and MN.

They want someone they know and trust. Don't discount the importance of personal connections when you get a weird situation like '08 where 5 guys sitting around the Roosevelt Room get to pick the anointed choice because the sitting VP isn't running. They know Romney, they like him, and they trust him.

The GOP bench gets very thin after McCain and Romney. Who else are they going to turn to? Frist is a loser. Sanford and Barbour are too southern. Brownback's and Santorum's conservative edges are way too sharp. Hagel is far off the reservation. Allen, Pataki, and Owens are all viable, but don't excite. The only guy besides McCain and Romney who makes any real sense for their strategery is Pawlenty, but they don't seem very high on him.

So basically, they think they can sell him to the base, they think he's a strong general election candidate, they like and trust him, and they've got few other choices.

Posted by: Petey | Mar 27, 2005 3:42:25 AM

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