Cheney Might Resign … But He Probably Won’t

Congressional Quarterly’s Craig Crawford appeared on “Hardball” yesterday speculating that Dick Cheney might “head for the hills” soon. Think Progress has the video and a partial transcript.

CRAWFORD: I still wonder if he stays in this administration for the full term here. I really wonder if Rumsfeld’s leaving is just the beginning.

MATTHEWS: Well, who is showing up with the Ryder truck at his home. Who’s gonna get him out?

CRAWFORD: He has to make the choice himself. He can’t be fired, technically, under the Constitution.

MATTHEWS: Why would he leave?

HARWOOD: As Bill Clinton once said, the Constitution makes him relevant for at least the two years. I don’t think he will go anywhere.

CRAWFORD: My point is I don’t know why he’d want to stick around.

MATTHEWS: He has assumed an awful lot of authority under this President.

CRAWFORD: I know, and that authority is waning, if not gone. And my point is why would he want to stick around in this environment? He might just choose to leave.

MATTHEWS: Let me check this. I rarely do this on the show. Are you teasing? Are you — do you actually think there’s a reasonable plausible case for this Vice President to give up all the power he enjoys as the President’s first counsel?

CRAWFORD: Not if he doesn’t enjoy it anymore. I mean all I’m seeing is the man getting isolated more and more. This seems to be his most vulnerable position in the entire Bush administration.

If Cheney was going to step down, he’d have done it before the 2004 elections when it mattered that he was unpopular. At this point, what advantage does anyone gain from him giving up the office to which he was elected? And who leaves on a down note by choice? Much better to ride it out and try to get the popularity numbers up.

As to having fun, now’s Cheney’s chance. He gets to battle against a Democratic Congress. While less satisfying from a policy standpoint, it’s a lot more enjoyable to spar with the opposition party than deal with interparty squabbling.

Matt Yglesias notes that pundits often propose politically or practically unviable solutions so that, when the chosen policy fails, they can claim “if only they’d followed my advice” we’d have been successful. Crawford is engaging in another time-honored practice of pundits and prognosticators: predicting something so implausible that virtually no one else with any name recognition is saying the same thing. If it doesn’t happen, there’s no real consequence. But, if you happen to get it right, you’re a genius.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. FredW says:

    It would give GWB a chance to anoint a successor — somebody who would carry on his legacy (since the current crop of GOP contenders will probably run away from GWB as fast as they can). Unfortunately, the only person I can think of that fits the bill is Condoleeza Rice.

  2. madmatt says:

    free publicity for 2 years for the neo-con of choice

  3. Len says:

    If Cheney was going to step down, he’d have done it before the 2004 elections when it mattered that he was unpopular.

    Using that test, James, wouldn’t Bush have fired Rummy two weeks before the midterm elections when it might actually have made a difference? There’s really no telling why they do what they do in this administration.

    Also, wouldn’t any replacement have to be confirmed by the Senate? A Senate which in a few weeks will be a Democratically controlled Senate. I doubt that Bush and his advisers would want to put anybody on their list through that.

    Don’t get me wrong… I am not cheering for Cheney. I dislike the man intensely. I just don’t believe he’s going anywhere (other than possibly to a Cardiac Intensive Care Unit).

  4. James Joyner says:

    Len: Good point on the Rumsfeld comparison.

    As to confirmation, the 25th Amendment says that “Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.” It’s only happened once before, with Gerald Ford in 1973, and he easily got confirmed within two months. Times have changed, of course, so it might indeed be much more difficult.

  5. Anderson says:

    The Prez could always make a recess appointment of John Bolton as Veep.