Recently Sen. John Kerry announced Sen. John Edwards as his vice-presidential running mate for the 2004 election. As is normal under such circumstances, Kerry has received much positive press and has opened up a temporary lead in the polls. Trying to blunt the "Edwards bounce," many Republicans attacked Edwards, either for being "too liberal" or suggesting that he does not have enough experience for the position. You can't win an election just by labeling someone a liberal without defining the issues, the ideas and the votes that give substance to that label. Otherwise, such attacks will just ring hollow with voters.
Another ridiculous idea has been floated by members of the press and one Republican, Alfonse D'Amato, suggesting that Vice President Dick Cheney must go if Bush is to win re-election. That is absurd. Dumping Cheney is not an option. What the Bush-Cheney campaign needs is not a face-lift but a big idea. A decision to abandon Cheney would be disastrous for the GOP and President Bush.
In the 2000 campaign and over the last few years as vice-president, contrary to media stereotypes, Cheney has been controlled, professional and one of the president's most trusted advisers. Up close, he is not ideologically rigid at all. Moreover, he is affable, thoughtful and almost entirely lacking pretense. Cheney is a good man and a faithful public servant. These qualities were evident when he debated Joe Lieberman in 2000 and will be manifest when he debates Edwards.
Democrats want Bush to dump Cheney not because he has close ties to the oil industry, but because he's effective. Cheney is an original supply-sider who helped push through the 2003 tax cuts that are largely responsible for the turnaround in the economy in the last year. He is also well-known for his expertise and clout on national security issues. I have no doubt that Cheney helped President Bush in the 2000 campaign, that he has been one of the most effective vice presidents in our nation's history and that he will be even more effective in the next four years. Cheney must stay.
The Kerry-Edwards ticket, on the other hand, is devoid of ideas. Yes, Kerry and Edwards are both liberal, but not in the sense of its Latin root "liber," which means open, generous and free. Rather, they are liberal in a political sense, which today manifests itself in reactionary policies, such as wealth redistribution, anti-entrepreneur laws and regulations, protectionism and refusing to fundamentally reform Social Security for the 21st century, which is imperative.