Will Blood Clot Force Cheney to Step Down?

This is London asks, “Will a blood clot force Cheney to step down?

“Almost certainly not” would seem the obvious answer. The facts:

Dick Cheney has been diagnosed with a blood clot in his left leg, leading to speculation he will be forced to resign as U.S. Vice-President. The 66-year-old has a history of major health problems, including four heart attacks, and has undergone quadruple-bypass surgery.


There has been widespread speculation that if Mr Cheney is unable to complete his term in office through ill health he will be replaced by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, another personal friend of Mr Bush.

Mr Cheney called in a doctor yesterday after suffering ‘discomfort’ in his calf. ‘An ultrasound test revealed a deep venous thrombosis or blood clot in his left lower leg,’ said an official report. The vice-president has been put on blood thinning medication and has returned to work.

While the White House is trying to play down the situation, the condition is obviously serious and will again trigger speculation that Mr Cheney could be forced to resign through poor health. Blood clots that form deep in the legs can become killers if they break off and float into the lungs. This is called a pulmonary embolism.

While pulmonary embolisms can be quite deadly, that’s because they are often undiagnosed until too late. That’s obviously not the case here. And, frankly, lab rats get less medical scrutiny than Dick Cheney.

On the other hand, it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that Cheney will decide that he’s had enough and use this as the pretext for early retirement. Still, I don’t see him throwing in the towel.

Further, the one woman at CPAC still campaigning for a Rice for President write-in aside, the bloom is pretty much off the Condi Rice rose. I’m not sure there would be much upside in appointing her to the vice presidency.

UPDATE: Bill Jempty, who has some experience with pulmonary embolisms, provides some additional insights.

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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:

    I have three possible candidates to succeed Cheney: Chuck Norris, Jack Bauer, or — best of all three — that “Mythbuster” guy with the beret.

    Think of it: while world diplomats are put off guard by the French-looking chapeau, Jamie will build a remote-controlled machine that will train all the world’s goldfish to hypnotize their masters and force them to do America’s bidding!

  2. This is just idiotic and ignorant babbling by the MSM. No one even signed off on the article. Blood clots are dangerous if left undetected. I know, I had a pulmonary embolism in 2005.


    They put the VP on coumadin aka Wafarin and maybe put a greenfield filter in him. End of story and speculation.


  3. The good news is that Cheney’s condition, when treated properly constitutes a relatively small threat. Vice President Cheney will be treated with blood-thinning medication for several months. The vice president may not be going on another nine-day trip that requires 65 hours of flying any time soon. Other than that Cheney should be fine.

    This isn’t an unprecedented situation. President Richard Nixon also suffered from deep-vein thrombosis when he was in office.

  4. Anderson says:

    Will Blood Clot Force Cheney to Step Down?

    Only if it causes a heart attack or stroke.