This move afoot to dump Dick Cheney is more than a clever Democratic ploy to generate GOP chaos since some Republicans favor it, too. But, respectfully, they're wrong.
Cheney has been the Democrats' and partisan media's whipping boy for some time now. He makes a nice target, since he is an unapologetically successful capitalist, a hawk and an articulate point man for the administration's policy agenda. Also he refuses to pander to the media or political correctness, and is beset by medical problems.
Back when the Democrats were living in the post 9-11 world, they grudgingly respected Cheney and the experience he brought to the team. His calm, deliberate and low-decibel approach was considered an asset as we were momentarily united in marshaling our resources to fend off the terrorist threat.
Indeed, some of the first shots the media fired at President Bush amounted to backhanded praise for Cheney. Bush, they said, was too simple to be running the show, so Cheney was pulling the strings behind the scenes. Unlike Bush, he had "gravitas."
But from the outset, Democrats disliked Cheney. After all, he was a co-conspirator in the "stolen" election. They began to grumble about Cheney's alleged conflicts of interest with mega-evil corporation Halliburton.
But Halliburton was just a convenient vehicle to smear Cheney. All but those on heavy medication realize Bush and Cheney didn't attack Iraq to line their own pocketbooks. What really started bothering Democrats was Cheney's increasingly visible role as a fierce advocate for regime change in Iraq. This qualified him for graduation from mere dislike to white-hot hatred. Henceforth, he had to be slandered equally to Bush.
In fact, because of George Bush's general likability, it became all the more imperative that Cheney be defamed. No matter how much they trashed Bush, people still seemed to believe he was a decent guy. Cheney's demeanor makes him more vulnerable to attack.
So where does that leave us? Well, Democrats have laid an ample foundation for those who want to jump on the dump-Cheney bandwagon. They've hammered him enough that significant numbers of people are beginning to wonder about him.
But it would be a fatal mistake to jettison Cheney. Only if his doctors strongly recommend it -- so far, they haven't -- or if his continued candidacy would gravely jeopardize the president's re-election prospects, should he step down. (Admittedly, Cheney isn't likely to run for president himself in four years in the event he and the president are re-elected. But the resulting potential loss of the incumbency advantage in 2008 isn't sufficient reason to change horses now.)
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