Thursday, August 11, 2005

Cheney '08
Armando, over at Kos, says, "God, please let it be true. I must dissent from those who think Cheney would be formidable." I have to agree.
Renowned journalist Bob Woodward predicts Dick Cheney will be the Republican Party's presidential nominee in 2008 and that the vice president could face Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton in a dramatic partisan showdown.

Speaking in the Paepcke Auditorium as part of the Aspen Institute's McCloskey Speaker Series, Woodward on Tuesday listed a number of reasons it is "highly likely" President Bush might implore Cheney to seek the Oval Office.

"He would be 67 if he ran and was elected. Reagan was 69. Republicans always like the old warhorse. ... Nixon was 68," said Woodward, best known for exposing the Watergate scandal that led to Richard Nixon's resignation in 1974. "Both parties like to nominate vice presidents. ... Cheney would do it, and I think it's highly likely, so stay tuned."

I'm not sure where the idea comes from that Cheney would be a formidable candidate. Last year in the Spring there was a sizeable "Dump Cheney" movement in the Republican Party aimed at drafting St. Rudy Giuliani. Part of that movement was based on Giuliani partisans trying to line their guy up in the strongest position for the '08 primaries. Part of it was based on shameless exploitation of 9/11 and the idea that "America's mayor" would make voters feel all warm and secure about the GOP. But the largest part of it was the perception that he was a loose cannon, a disagreeable old poop, and a liability to ticket.

Who is Cheney's natural constituency within the Party? The neocons love him, but they aren't a voting block. Even as behind the scenes power brokers, they aren't as influential as they were four years ago. Most of their influence comes from Cheney supporting them, not the other way around.

The social conservatives and religious extremists seem comfortable with Cheney, but are they enthusiastic? Will their leaders make a tactical decision to support Cheney, because he looks like a winner, rather than someone like Brownback, who is actively sucking up to their positions? Will that decision turn out the "values" voters? Or will they look at his soft-porn writing wife and lesbian daughter and stay home?

Private property nuts, anti-environmentalists, and beneficiaries of corporate welfare like him, but do they amount to much in numbers? That means he could deliver Idaho, Alaska, and Wyoming. And we all know how worried the Party is about those states going Democratic.

The only advantage I see him having in the '08 primaries is the insider advantage of the establishment's preferred heir. Bush had that advantage in 2000 and used it to bludgeon down other primary candidates, even in places where the voters clearly preferred those other candidates. He will have money and organization. Those are indeed formidable advantages and enough to carry him through the primaries to an easy nomination, but are they enough to get him elected?

When all of the balloons have settled to the floor of the convention center, the fact will remain that he's a disagreeable old poop.

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