Barnes: Why Not Dick Cheney in 2008?

Fred Barnes argues that, even though Vice President Cheney has been Shermanesque in his unwillingness to seek the presidency in 2008, President Bush should do everything he can to change his mind.

In all likelihood, the 2008 election, like last year’s contest, will focus on foreign policy. The war on terror, national security, and the struggle for democracy will probably dominate American politics for a decade or more. Bush’s legacy, or at least part of it, will be to have returned these issues to a position of paramount concern for future presidents. And who is best qualified to pursue that agenda as knowledgeably and aggressively as Bush? The answer is the person who helped Bush formulate it, namely Cheney.

He then notes that Condi Rice, the Bush foreign policy official often mentioned as a presidential possibility, “would face the distinct disadvantage of being a first-time candidate.”

What about John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Bill Frist, and other Republicans who are thinking about running? They don’t come close to Cheney in foreign policy know-how or decision-making experience. That’s not to denigrate them. McCain has emphasized foreign and military affairs in his Senate career and is an able spokesman for a Bush-style foreign policy. Giuliani is no slouch on the subject of the terrorist threat. But who would generate the most public confidence as commander in chief? Cheney, for sure. On domestic issues as well–particularly taxes and energy–he can match any of the likely Republican candidates.

The main rap I’ve heard on Cheney is that he lacks the charisma to get elected. This is nonsense. So what if he can be characterized as Bush without the pizzazz? Cheney has what’s far more important–gravitas. He’s a man who’s taken seriously as a national leader by everyone here and abroad. Voters aren’t stupid. They know that gravitas trumps charisma in choosing a president in a foreign policy era.

Maybe so. Personally, I’ve always liked Cheney. Were I given sole ability to appoint the next president from the list above, he’d be my pick. So far, however, that offer has not been made. Let’s face it, charisma and likeability count in presidential politics. His curmudgeonly style and dry wit were great for Wyoming but may not play in crucial swing states. Plus, he’ll have to get past the constant “Halliburton” nonsense.

A lot depends on the state of affairs circa January 2008. If the economy is going well and current trends in the Middle East play out, Cheney would walk to the nomination and, absent some disaster, win the presidency a’la George H.W. Bush in 1988. If it’s a tight race, though, I’d prefer someone with more crossover appeal.

via Michelle Malkin

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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. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. McGehee says:

    Sometimes Fred goes a little off the rails, as though a slow day on the political news front leaves him grasping for something to write. I can certainly relate, and I have the luxury of simply choosing not to write when it happens to me.

    I think Fred could take a cue from George Will and pick some non-political subject to write about when the political well is running dry.

  2. Dave says:

    I also like Cheney but I doubt he’ll run.

    His role in the Bush administration has been to be the antipathy magnet. He is Bush’s picture of Dorian Gray. Democrats may not like Bush, but they think Cheney is EVIL.

    For the record, I said the same thing about Hillary and she won her last election without breaking a sweat.

  3. Jfw says:

    Dick Cheney is a hawk’s hawk. We would be storming to Tehren now if this nut had his way. Fortunately, it seems that “The chimp” is now taking advice from other quarters and even Rummy may be on his way out.

    Bush has rubbed his lips raw from kissing all those European asses – and then he suggests neo-nut John Bolton to the UN?

    This administration doesn’t know if it’s coming or going; which may be a good thing or it would have done even more damage than it already has