Thursday, April 13, 2006

A Cancer on the Presidency

[[L E G A C I E S]] * Thirty-three years ago, in the tumultuous midst of the Watergate scandal, then-White House counsel John Dean told his boss, Richard M. Nixon, that the administration’s cover-up was “a cancer on the presidency,” one that had to be excised before it put his entire presidency in danger.

Now, with a different scandalized Republican occupying the Oval Office, The New Republic’s Ryan Lizza identifies another cancer growing on the presidency--but this time, it has a name: Dick Cheney.

I don’t subscribe to TNR, but fortunately, Steve Benen excerpts the relevant passage at his must-read blog, The Carpetbagger Report. Opining on ways George W. Bush might get his administration “back on track,” Lizza makes this suggestion:
Fire Cheney. I believe historians will trace all of Bush’s problems back to July 25, 2000, the day he picked Dick Cheney as his running mate. The Cheney rollout was met by a slew of negative stories about Halliburton, heart attacks, and his Neanderthal voting record in the House (against sanctions for apartheid South Africa, for example). Ever since, Cheney has been at the center of most Bush screw-ups: the energy task force investigation, the policy battle over torture, White House stonewalling of numerous congressional investigations, the Iraq war, the intelligence failures, and many more. (Also, Cheney shot someone in the face.) Now Cheney is a recurring star in the court filings of Patrick Fitzgerald. […]

Cheney is the cancer at the center of the Bush White House. Bush has less than three years left in office. Most political forces--Republicans jockeying for president, the coming GOP losses in the midterms, the normal decline in a lame duck’s authority--are working against him. Americans are psychologically moving beyond Bush. The only reason to give him another chance is if he indicates he’s learned some lessons and is willing to make dramatic changes. Firing Cheney would do both.
Trouble is, of course, that Cheney is an ardent loyalist, with a thick enough hide to take the blame whenever Bush needs a West Wing scapegoat. If he dumped “Shooter” Cheney, the prez would have to start taking responsibility for everything that the press now credits to the veep’s influence or interference. And Dubya isn’t about to do that.

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