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Weekly Opinion by Lindsey Eck

25 July 2000 BUSH MEETS DICK

George W. Bush reruns Dynasty

Well, it’s all but official: Today Presidential candidate George W. Bush will announce Richard Cheney as his running mate. In so doing, Bush succeeded in breaking his first major promise, to decide by the weekend just past. But he did waffle on that promise even at the time.

Cheney, affectionately known as “Dick” in the press, served in papa George H.W. Bush’s cabinet as Secretary of Defense. Leave it to Bush to go for another white male Texan energy chief. Sure fits in with Dad’s legacy. Like a rerun of Dynasty. And the Defense angle fits nicely with Bush’s NRA backing to make for an all-macho ticket. Perhaps the Governor needed to shore up his support among white Southern males?

At the same time Cheney, like George W., never served in the armed forces. So, in both cases, the machismo is a bit flaco. But what counts is media spin, not actual military service. Somehow, it seems, Gore could pick fellow Vietnam Vet John Kerry as a running mate and Bush-Cheney would still get the Soldier of Fortune vote.

Anyway, the choice of Cheney could be the first serious slip for charmed Gov. Bush, as Cheney does not flatter the Governor by comparison, and the messages sent to the electorate are not inspiring ones. Indeed, the Democrats must be popping corks to see the opportunities the choice may offer:

Cheney, living in Texas, had to hightail it to Wyoming (said to be his “home state” though he was born in Nebraska) to register to vote there, since the Constitution prohibits electors (remember that funny College) voting for a President and Vice President being “inhabitants” of the same state. Which sure takes the sting out of the “carpetbagger” charge against Hillary Clinton becoming an “inhabitant” of New York in order to run for Senate. Like Hillary, like Dick. Rick Lazio must hate losing his best talking point.

If the greatest proof of Gov. Bush’s alpha dominance is his record score of death warrants (see last week’s column), he risks being upstaged by Cheney, who rained aerial death upon the populace of Baghdad and supervised the burial alive of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Though every Iraqi’s ass but Saddam’s wound up getting kicked, you gotta admit, Bush’s 137 kills pale by comparison with the bad-guy extermination carried out by Cheney. Unfortunately for a cabinet that would no doubt include Colin Powell and John McCain, military adventurism is probably not on the menu for the foreseeable future, except for the occasional bombing in Iraq or strafing in Colombia, which Democrats seem to be able to carry out as callously as Republicans.

In fact, Cheney’s strengths — such as presumably being able to locate Chechnya on a map — only help to point up some of the Governor’s weaknesses (foreign policy, Washington expertise). Unfortunately Cheney’s expertise is not matched by the kind of magnanimous character needed to wage peace in an era defined more by trade conflicts than crusades for Holy Oil. Also, though the perception that Cheney’s forte is defense helps deflect scrutiny of his abortion views (what are they, anyway?), ultimately the people need business, not military, leadership from the GOP. At least papa Bush knew better than to choose a senior Vice President who could upstage him. So did Clinton.

Speaking of domestic issues, spouse Lynne Cheney may help to neutralize another distaff Democratic liability: Tipper Gore still antagonizes many who remember her stand against purportedly indecent song lyrics. But, compared to Tipper, former National Endowment for the Humanities chairwoman Cheney ought to make Mapplethorpe idolaters go limp with dread. In fact, on Sunday’s Meet the Press, moralizer Bill Bennett called the Cheneys, simultaneously at Defense and NEH, “the material and moral defense of Western Civilization.” The obnoxious and philistine Lynne Cheney takes away some of the class imparted to the ticket by Laura Bush’s bland politics and promotion of literacy.

Nor does it help the Bush image to share the ticket with another oil executive based in Texas. Especially in a year of rising gas prices. Republicans have been betting the public thinks Gore’s call to phase out the internal-combustion engine is a wild-eyed notion. It may play better than an all-oil ticket this fall. GOP: Good Old Petroleum.

And, of course, the issue of Cheney’s three heart attacks and quadruple bypass in 1988 is what the media have already hyped to death. Assuming the prospective Second Ticker has indeed been rectified, Cheney’s age (and he looks much older than his years) offers a chance for Gore to pose as the advocate of a new generation by picking another Boomer. Meanwhile, that the GOP, despite their self-proclaimed “deep bench,” can do no better than to reprise the Administration of the elder (and deeply unpopular) Bush, does not inspire a public looking for leadership into the future.

But worst of all is the opportunity for mockery by late-night comics. You read it here first:



The Texecutioner’s Song

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