Cheney the 'safe' choice: Are they never satisfied?
By Lewis J. Goldberg
Speculation on Bush's Vice Presidential pick has been grist for numerous columns in the press, on both the Internet and from the print trade. Everyone knew that should W pick someone controversial or 'different' like Alan Keyes or John Danforth, the accusations over motive would fly like bats at midnight. That the winner of the 'veep-stakes' should be Dick Cheney should send only one message: Bush is not interested in making avante garde political statements, only in being President. To be an effective President, you've got to have an effective team. Cheney is a fine start to that team.
While it is generally understood in Conservative circles that Bush is not the best Conservative of the bunch, he does stand the greatest chance of victory through his wide appeal. His choice of Cheney widens his appeal even further, thus the recent rise in the polls for Bush.
In a Washington Times column, Ralph Z. Hallow writes (paraphrasing Fred Meyer of the RNC) "...the selection of Mr. Cheney will reassure the crucial swing voter about Mr. Bush's judgment." How about that! A Republican treating the 'swing voters' as if they were conservative by luring them with conservatism. Mr. Bush has out-Reaganed Gore on this one. Who's Gore going to pick for the same effect...Traficant? Not in a million. The Democrats have no 'talent' to draw from past presidencies because they haven't presided over an honourable administration since, perhaps, the Truman era [certainly, even that claim is debatable.]
Immediately following the announcement came the charges of 'safe choice,' in unison, as if there were meetings held about what to call the appointment. Clearly, Democrats and press alike (redundant...they need to come with one word for both institutions,) are upset with Cheney as veep-apparent because it's such a darned-fine choice. The straws that are being grasped are so thin they can't be held. Here, separated into categories, is a smattering of the lies being spread about Cheney.
The 'Doofus' Characterization
On the Mother Jones website, Tim Dickinson pokes fun at Cheney by posting some quotes which he apparently thinks are self-incriminating, but likely would make conservatives say either "cool!" or "so?" Following are some examples [with editor comments in blue]:
Last we checked, he accomplished his goal.
"Confrontation fits our strategy. Polarization often has very beneficial results. If everything is handled through compromise and conciliation, if there are no real issues dividing us from the Democrats, why should the country change and [vote us into office]?" --The New Republic, June 3, 1985
These are called 'principles,' Mr. Dickinson.
"I had other priorities in the '60s than military service." -- The Washington Post, April 5, 1989
Americans like politicians who tell the truth.
"I am what I am, and if people aren't willing to accept me on that basis then, hell, vote for somebody else." -- U.S. News & World Report, Oct. 25, 1993
More of that honesty and principle for you.
The "Big Oil" Image
Amongst the lamer criticisms leveled at Cheney is the vilification of his employment since leaving public life. Cheney became CEO of Halliburton, an oil field services firm, in 1995, and earns on the order of two-million dollars a year. This, of course, is bad, according to the press. Are we to infer that had Cheney spent his time cleaning tables in the local Steak 'n' ShakeTM, that would have been better? So, Bush/Cheney is the "Big Oil" ticket...so what? Should they be the "Big Grocery Clerk" ticket...how about the "Big Unemployed Disabled Heavy-Equipment Operator" ticket? Is there a point to this accusation?
The War Monger Tactic
With Dick Cheney's experience running Desert Storm, Bush sends a simple message to the Middle East: The guns are loaded. We don't need to use them - they just need to know. Bush probably knows how dad pulled off the political end of it, and he's not likely to be as worried about his blood pressure as Bush the Elder. Alan Elsner of Reuters put it well when he said "If anyone ever embodied Teddy Roosevelt's maxim to speak softly but carry a big stick, it is Cheney." Indeed, Cheney gives that aura to the whole prospective administration. This is to be distinguished from Clinton's modus operandi of sending our troops to the 'global hot-spot of the week,' to test new equipment on live targets, and divert the press from the real agenda.
The "Look at his Congressional Voting Record" Ploy
On ABC's "Good Morning America," Cheney was questioned on his vote not to ban plastic guns and the so-called 'cop-killer' bullets. His response indicated that he takes seriously the words at the end of the Second Amendment stating, "...shall not be infringed." These bills were clearly for 'infringement.' He also voted to not impose economic sanctions on South Africa, the accusation being that he was 'anti-Mandela.' Could it be that he realises sanctions don't work? These and other questions only validate Cheney's likability to most Conservatives, rather than turn them off.
The 'Anti-Women' Voting Claim
While a Congressman, Cheney voted against abortion in 14 out of 14 issues presented. Liberals claim this is 'anti-woman'...conservatives generally see this as 'pro-child.' The side that claims to do everything 'for the children' seems to think that hacking a human being to bits and sucking them from the womb with a vacuum cleaner is pro-woman. The absurdity speaks for itself.
If this is all the Libs can come up with - friends, reserve your tux for the Bush Inaugural Ball. At least with Bush himself, the press had some good rumours to attack him with. For Cheney, they'll have to find a third grade teacher willing to attest that "once, little Dick missed two days of school, unexcused, in a row." Old Peter Jennings will have a hard time arching his eyebrows over that one. Dan Rather's furrowed brow won't furrow as easy with squeaky-clean Cheney on the ticket. "Oh, if only he could have picked Ridge, or Keyes, or McCain...them would be the days, eh?" they would lament in the studio break rooms. Bush has made the press' job so much more difficult by requiring them to think if they plan to attack his veep, not just shoot from the hip with the first smarmy accusation that comes to mind.
Lewis J. Goldberg is the editor of PlanetGoldberg.
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