Cheney and America would have been better off had he submitted to that FoxNews interview a bit earlier than he did. Why perpetuate myths and deepen wounds with the media?
In one sense this affair is terrible for President Bush, and in another it's not.
It's bad for the president because, combined with all the other problems plaguing the administration and the GOP Congress, he doesn't need a vice president who engenders raw hatred from a biased press, and who draws increasingly poor approval ratings from a general public that doesn't keep up with the dynamics of vice-presidential politics. In short, the No. 2 guy at the White House is just another drag on this somewhat beleaguered, but well-intentioned president.
Moreover, it makes the president look weak. Does anyone think that former President George HW Bush, while still President Ronald Reagan's vice president, ever would have left his boss hanging out to dry for three days while the vice president's staff handled things "their way"? Absolutely not. And if President Lyndon Johnson's second-in-charge, Hubert Humphrey, or Richard Nixon's vice president, Spiro Agnew, had gotten out of line, they probably would have been shown the back of their bosses' hands.
In fact, while Nixon personally enjoyed Agnew's famed attacks on the media during their first (and only) full term together, the Nixon White House effectively shut down Agnew's media presence almost completely after his most notorious tirade against the press.
Yet President Bush has had to stay mum on the way in which Cheney handled the hunting accident. This has only added to the public's expanding image of Cheney as the commander-in-chief's father figure. That hurts not only the president, but his staff, too.
There is a positive side, too. By sheer contrast to Cheney's perceived attitude of "I'm old, wise, connected and never again up for re-election," President Bush looks like one of the most caring, happy and upbeat men ever to inhabit 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Heck, the public even knows about the president having momentarily choked on a snack while watching TV some years ago. Cheney's regime probably would have classified similar information about their boss.
It will be easy to beat up on Dick Cheney this week. And while my public relations concerns for him are valid, I stand by my assertion that the media frenzy over the shooting accident and their righteous indignation seem laughable when anyone recalls that this is the same crowd that hangs on every word of Kennedy. Let's have a little perspective here.
More ominously for Cheney is one looming cloud on the horizon. If that cloud truly holds rain, it might force even many diehard GOP high officials to rethink their uncompromised backing of Cheney.
The vice president's former chief of staff, "Scooter" Libby, is now saying his superiors authorized him to leak to media the name of a CIA "operative."
If by that, "Scooter" means Dick Cheney authorized the leak, then we can all strap on our seat belts for a bumpy political ride. And Mr. Cheney really will need serious public relations help, with both the media and his boss in the White House.