Cheney's detractors can't get their story straight

Posted: Aug 01, 2000 12:00 AM
Well, it looks like George Bush has lost the jaded feminist vote.

I was still a little mopey that Bush had chosen Dick Cheney as his running mate, rather than my personal favorite, Gov. Frank Keating of Oklahoma, when I heard Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., saying some very nice things about Cheney on CNN. She said, for example: "This is probably the most anti-choice ticket we've ever had."

"You look at the women's vote," Boxer continued (referring to the jaded feminist vote). Cheney "voted against the Equal Rights Amendment -- very anti-choice, even anti-family planning. And on the issue of guns -- which is a big issue -- sensible gun laws -- he was one of just a handful to vote against banning terrorist guns, which are those plastic guns which we were warned could get across the metal detectors."

I have no idea what Boxer is talking about. But neither does she, since there is no such thing as a gun -- capable of firing ammunition, anyway -- that can slip through a metal detector. Apparently, though, by choosing Cheney, Bush has cavalierly written off the enticing prospect of having women like Barbara Boxer, who would never, ever vote for a Republican under any circumstances, hate him a little less.

Boxer bemoaned the fact that Bush had passed over "mainstream" choices such as Olympia Snowe. "To my mind," Boxer said, Snowe "would have been an unbelievable addition to the ticket." It is undeniable that adding one of Maine's sorry "Republican" senators would have been "unbelievable."

Dick Cheney served as President Ford's chief of staff when he was 34 years old, was elected to six terms in Congress from Wyoming, and served for four years as Pentagon chief under President Bush, where he successfully managed the Persian Gulf War. By contrast, Olympia Snowe's home page prominently displays precisely two items under "hot issues" (cutely written in flames): two Maine pork projects at a cost of 9.7 million taxpayer dollars. Obviously, only rank sexism can explain such a stateswoman's absence from Bush's short list of prospective running mates.

Liberals are attacking Cheney as "your father's Oldsmobile" -- as opposed, presumably, to the current administration, which is O.J.'s white Bronco. Indeed, the media are appalled that Bush chose a running mate from his father's Cabinet. NPR's Juan Williams said the Cheney pick shows "it's his father's administration coming back to haunt us." And precisely which administration is coming back to haunt us with a candidate who is Bill Clinton's vice president, called Clinton one of "America's greatest presidents, and dismissed rape allegations against Clinton as "mistakes made in his personal life"?

An op-ed piece in The New York Times claimed the Cheney pick "declares the Reagan chapter of the Republican Party's history not merely completed, but closed." This is, the author wrote, "a Bush-Bushie ticket." Meanwhile, Barbara Boxer (et al) is busily attacking Cheney for being too conservative.

So which is it: Is Cheney too "Bushie" or too conservative? This is an attack machine that can't get its story straight. Any more liberal than Bush's father and Cheney would have to be a Democrat.

That is the reason, of course, that Democrats (aka "the media") are perennially unhappy with Republican presidential tickets -- too many Republicans. The barn-burning Dole-Kemp ticket is the sort of ticket liberals claim to be "scared" of. They said they "hoped" Republicans would be stupid enough to run someone like Ronald Reagan. Like Boxer, there are probably a lot of people who do not wish Bush well who can think of other "unbelievable additions" to his ticket -- much better than that too-conservative, but simultaneously too-"Bushie" moderate, Dick Cheney.

As for the (admittedly frightening) point that Cheney did work for the "No New Taxes -- Oops, Just Kidding" Bush, if I could say: Bush's father WAS president, which is a rather prominent position in the political arena. If you were going to be defense secretary under a president who would not be ordering you to bomb foreigners to distract from his impeachment, you would have to have served in the Bush administration. Cheney was only 39 years old when Reagan was first elected -- and he was needed where he was, in Congress, voting for Reagan's tax cuts and military expansions.

Moreover, it's not like Bush picked Dick Darman (Bush's assistant on breaking the read-my-lips pledge) or David Souter (the left's assistant in destroying the country) from his father's administration. He chose a nice conservative who doesn't come across as a snarling extremist.

All the Cheney choice shows is that Bush is not unduly concerned with projecting the idea that he is bringing a fresh start for the country. Freshness may be overrated, anyway. The last "fresh start" we had was with the Clintons in 1992.