There are lots of people within the Republican base that loved President George W Bush’s choice of Dick Cheney for Vice President. Cheney added “gravitas” to the Bush-Cheney ticket. He knew Washington, had an impressive resumé, schooled Joseph Liebermann and John Edwards in debates, helped Bush in several fronts in getting his agenda through, and had both intelligence and competence. However there was one thing that Cheney never lived up to: being President Bush’s successor.
Conservative, libertarian, and Tea Party instincts perk up when someone in power chooses who will be their heir apparent, a very healthy impulse to have but a destructive one in practice.
After Bush-Cheney won in 2004, the next election for President was underway. This meant that a wide-open field of candidates decided to run for Office in both parties’ primaries. Remember in those early debates in 2007 there were ten people on stage. Having a vigorous debate on the direction of the Republican Party and country is very important, but one person was missing from those debates, Dick Cheney. What happened was many of the candidates trashed the Bush Administration on some decisions that were not popular at the time and Senator John McCain won the GOP nomination. Then McCain was labeled a third term of George W Bush and successfully lost to Senator Barack Obama in November 2008. Probably no Republican could have beaten Obama due to the economic collapse and Obama being the first African-American nominee of a major party, but there are other lessons to be learned.
Imagine if Vice President Dick Cheney had run for President in 2008. The dynamics politically would have change dramatically. First of all, the “Bush’s third term” label would be on display at the primary debates. Cheney would have defended Bush’s administration and been “Presidential” doing it. This would have pushed out some of the pretenders because those “Also-Ran’s” would look weak standing next to Cheney. Also, having Cheney defend Bush would have raised George W Bush’s poll numbers. Bush would then still have relevancy by fighting Congress. Some of Bush’s major mistakes occurred during a Pelosi-Reid Congress. Without Cheney running, Bush’s numbers sank like a rock and had no base in confidence from the public.
Another major advantage in Cheney running would have been removing the “Bush’s third term” label from the challengers in the race. If McCain had beaten Cheney for the GOP nomination, it would have been a hard sell by Democrats to label McCain ss “Bush’s third term.” Cheney was the symbol of that and McCain could easily refute that claim. In essence it’s a win-win from the Republican Party’s prospective. If the GOP base wanted change, then vote for a challenger. If the GOP base wanted to stay the course, then vote for Cheney. Either way strategically this was more ideal.
A good example of this was in 1988. George H W Bush was the Vice President of President Ronald Reagan. Bush 41 was more moderate than Reagan, but was willing to defend Reagan’s record. The race actually helped Bush by being more palatable to the base and a better candidate verse Governor Michael Dukakis. Bush 41 beat Dukakis handily that fall.
Going forward the 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney ought to heed the lessons of choosing a Vice Presidential pick that will not succeed him. In the long-term that decision could damage his legacy and ability to lead the country in a possible second term. Out of the box choices are fine as long as that person can fill the role as President if either something unfortunate happens or when the time comes to replace Romney after his second term.blog comments powered by Disqus