Time looks at Dubya's Veep choice.
August 2, 2000 11:36 AM   Subscribe

Time looks at Dubya's Veep choice. Here's what's interesting: "In fact, by (the time of Sen. John Danforth's interview) Bush not only knew he wanted Cheney to be his Vice President; he also knew Cheney would say yes. But that was information that neither man shared with Danforth. He and 10 other would-be running mates had laid themselves bare before Cheney and his vetting team." Why would Bush continue to put people through an exhaustive screening process after he already made up his mind... Unless he was digging for dirt on rivals? J. Edgar Hoover lives.
posted by aurelian (15 comments total)
(a) Why would Bush worry about rivals after locking up the nomination?

(b) How effect is it to dig up dirt on someone by asking them?
posted by rcade at 12:13 PM on August 2, 2000

I love how Shrub-boy picked one of his dad's business cronies for his VP. I mean, could he be any more blatant?
posted by wiremommy at 12:18 PM on August 2, 2000

Rumor has it Junior plans to announce his cabinet choices soon after the convention.

Perhaps that's what Cheney was really doing all that time: screening candidates for the Bush's cabinet and not the vice-presidency.
posted by ratbastard at 12:35 PM on August 2, 2000

One can never have too much dirt on one's cronies.

And you don't get to even an interview for VP without being foolishly ambitious. Bush & Dick (hee) aren't the only ones who'd sell their family out for a spot on a ticket.

That ambition makes these pretenders (Danforth, etc) vulnerable later on. It sucks to be them.

Excuse me, I have to go delouse myself now and move to a country with a fairer electoral system. Like Mexico.
posted by chicobangs at 12:52 PM on August 2, 2000

Getting elected is as much about creating drama as it is about being a good candidate. I'm not surprised Bush (or anyone) would use this tactic to create suspense in the press. That's just life in our media-driven times.
posted by frykitty at 1:15 PM on August 2, 2000

You guys actually been watching the convention? I started just for grins but now it's like craning at a car wreck. It's painful. They actually believe they can reach out to the swing voter by pulling on the reins of their most conservative and extreme party members, painting everything green, and showering the stage with political correctness. And every night there's a friendly Dubya sittin' there with his wife and some friends as if he were hosting a christian cable show, but he's not there yet oh no!. Hes' "on his way!" First night he was like in Ohio. Next night he was in Gettysburg. It's like he's touring the world like Santa Claus and before you know it on that special day you yes you will see Dubya bless the world in Philly.

It's so mushy gooey warmy feeling that I got a toothache and a tummyache. But y'know what's scary? It just might work. =(
posted by ZachsMind at 1:49 PM on August 2, 2000

Maybe Cheney had to make sure Danforth was toe-ing the line. You know:

Dick: You'll find no evidence of government wrongdoing at Waco...

John: I'll find no evidence of government wrongdoing at Waco...

Dick: These aren't the droids you're looking for...

John: These aren't the droids we're looking for...
posted by dcehr at 2:05 PM on August 2, 2000

rcade: Republicans are fairly well known for internecine struggles. Much of the most embarrassing criticism of elected officials, at any level, comes from their own party.

Now, think about what happens if, say, George Pataki, the Governor of NY, decides to criticise a Bush Administration in a few years... And he's told, "Hey, George, remember {insert scandal of your choice}?"

As to why it's digging if you're asking for answers to be given voluntarily... Going from a state level of exposure to the federal level really is a big jump. One is much more likely to have the whole Beltway press corps sniffing for anything. That means the pitch to a potential Veep is, "Tell us everything, so we can draw up damage control plans now, should anything get out."

There are many folks in politics who are clean, I firmly believe that. But out of ten interviews, my guess would be 2 or 3 turned up real dirt... for no reason that can be justified by the search itself, given that Bush and Cheney had already made up their minds.

It's the ex post facto nature of the whole thing that only reinforces my gut feeling that Dubya is an arrogant, vindictive twerp. I haven't gotten the creepy-crawlies like this since Nixon, and I'm someone who thinks Clinton is the most venal president since Harding. But both I and the republic can live with venality and an open sex drive. Paranoia, arrogance, and a "how do we destroy our enemies" attitude is much more worrisome, to me.

As always, Your Mileage May Vary.

ratbastard: If that's true, it sounds good to me, and I'll glad eat whatever amounts of crow people like. I've always thought that waiting 'til after the election to choose a cabinet was a silly waste of time in our age, and if the plan is to have all the legislation and nominations ready to go once the new Congress is sworn in, power to them.

Note that I'm approving that as a contingency plan, and I shouldn't be read as thinking Bush has this locked up. If anything, I think he's deeply in a hole on a state-by-state basis, which is how the Electoral College gets decided... but that's probably something for a different thread.

posted by aurelian at 4:01 PM on August 2, 2000

If Al Gore wants to appoint, say, Bernie Saunders as SecDef and Ralph Nader Secretary of Commerce, I'd like to know prior to election day.

posted by lileks at 9:28 PM on August 2, 2000

Yeah, lileks, wouldn't that be cool? But I can't remember any candidate doing that... It's always wait-and-see 'til after the election.

This is an area I think the Brits outdo us, with the whole "shadow minister" thing. But then, heck, if I wuz prez, I'd probably swipe Question Time from them, too. Much better that the President should be at least occasionally questioned by the people's representatives, rather than solely by the unelected flappers of the Press.

posted by aurelian at 10:03 PM on August 2, 2000

I never knew being George H. W. Bush's secretary of defense makes Cheney "one of his dad's business cronies"

People don't like Bush and Cheney's connections with oil while they say nothing about Al "the actual Junior" Gore's holdings of oil stock, or while on one hand talk tearfully about his sister's battle with lung cancer and on the other hand profit handsomely from tobacco money.
posted by gyc at 10:58 PM on August 2, 2000

::sigh:: Remember the good old days (pre-1992) when liberals still had at least an iota of ability to fight ideas with ideas? Now all they can do is march in lockstep to the Clinton playbook: personal attacks. But now the public is on to them and are sick of it, judging by the polls.

So much BS here, I'll just have to respond one by one.

wiremommy: Amusing that you have to attack a former Secretary of Defense as being merely "daddy's business pal." Only the Democrats, terrified by the thought of losing all political control for the first time in many decades (no White House, no House, no Senate), would think they would be able to get away with knocking a former Congressman and Secretary of Defense as "daddy's business pal." Or that they could make the public forget that Dubya's father happened to be, you know, President of the United States. Or that they could make the public think that seeking advice from someone who's been there is somehow a sign of weakness. Of course, nobody's buying it.

frykitty and ratbastard pretty much got the truth of this: You vet everybody, or at least make the media think so, in order to keep the media from telling the world you've picked someone you haven't totally decided on yet. And as most media outlets besides Time managed to report, Dubya hadn't decided on Cheney 100% until the same day he offered Cheney the spot.

Zach: >>They actually believe they can reach out to the swing voter by pulling on the reins of their most conservative and extreme party members...

1) They have reached out. As of Wednesday, Bush leads Gore by 13 points. That's up 5 points in 48 hours. 2) The extremists are already marginalized. Even the internal polls of convention delegates show them to be much more moderate than the delegates of 1996. 3) Your statement carries with it the implication that there's no such thing as an extremist Democrat. Sure. So far in Philadelphia we've seen an openly gay GOP Congressman speak, as well as a speech by Colin Powell where he openly advocated affirmative action (aka reverse discrimination). I'll be happy to bet folding money that the DNC will not be offering up any openly homophobic or anti-affirmative action speakers, if for no other reason than they wouldn't want a riot to break out on the convention floor.

aurelian: You have every right to think of Dubya as you wish, even though I don't personally see where you're coming from. But how can you not think similarly of Clinton-Gore, whose entire modus operendi has always been attack, attack, attack, attack, destroy anyone who dares cross them? Geez, look at Clinton's personal attack on Bush the other day, which constituted the first violation in history of the old gentleman's rule that during the other side's convention, you keep your mouth shut and let them have their day? It's just mean.

posted by aaron at 11:43 PM on August 2, 2000

As for the strategy of announcing cabinet selections before the election. I think think it's a great idea, and I think I know where he got it! When I was in college, a friend of mine ran for student-body president, and announced his cabinet beforehand. The strategy was, "here's the team we've already assembled to get stuff done for you." It worked well, and he won.

Now this friend of mine volunteers for the Bush campaign... and suddenly Bush has the same idea?? Amazing!
posted by daveadams at 7:01 AM on August 3, 2000

Aaron: From Bush Watch...

"As Secretary of Defense, Cheney worked to privatize the system, awarding a particularly large contract worth millions to Brown and Root, a division of Halliburton. Then, when Cheney became a private citizen, he was hired as CEO of Halliburton and paid millions to continue to contribute to the growth of that oil company."

You can read more about it in the LA Times.

So yeah, I called him one of Bush I's business cronies. To me, his allegiance to the oil business is more of a factor, both in the reason he was chosen by Bush II, and in showing where his real loyalties lie... certainly more of a factor than his stints as chief of staff to Gerald Ford (there's an administration to be proud you were a part of), legislator, and Bush cabinet member.

I haven't forgotten that Bush Jr.'s dad was President-- I remember the travesty of his reign, especially the Gulf War, all too clearly, which is among the many reasons I oppose putting Bush's loser son in office in monarchy-like succession to his dad. I also remember that Bush I headed up the CIA, which helps explain his fascistic invasive foreign policy decisions and his general creepiness as a public figure.

Oh, but don't get me wrong, Aaron, I hate Clinton and Gore too; in fact, I consider them to be honorary Republicans for their slavish catering to business interests. I'm for Nader.
posted by wiremommy at 8:27 AM on August 3, 2000

aaron: It's not unlike when NeXT promoted themselves as "an easier version of UNIX". Not easy, mind you. Just easier. I fully agree with the contention Clinton and Gore are nasty (see especially James Fallows' article in The Atlantic, "An Acquired Taste")... I'm just saying that Dubya strikes me as nastier. Resorting to Nixonian dirty tricks against members of his own party -- and mine -- only reinforces this.

wiremommy: Speaking of my party... :) I think being part of the Ford Administration is something to be proud of. Nixon's departure was so ugly, any successor was going to get trashed. Ford did what needed to be done -- get the government back to governing -- and did it with minimal fuss. Policy mistakes along the way? Sure, just like any other president. But Ford was just the right kind of reluctant president that was needed at the time. Jerry never wanted to be president... He'd always wanted to be Speaker of the House, and he was much more comfortable in Congress. I really suspect that most of his troubles in office were because he didn't want to be there in the first place. {shrug}

Part of this opinion, admittedly, is shaped by being a fan of David Hume Kennerly, who was White House photographer for Ford (his book Photo Op is still available, and it's great). Kennerly saw Ford more often while in office than probably anybody, it was the nature of his job to be a fly on the wall at everything... and he came out of it with enormous respect for Ford. Again, {shrug}, and it's probably just the latent photojournalist in me that's willing to give great credence to Kennerly's opinions.

posted by aurelian at 4:33 PM on August 3, 2000

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