Should Cheney Be Next?
Monday, April 24, 2006; 12:39 PM
Even as skittish White House aides brace for another wave of staffing shuffles this week, the bar is being dramatically raised on what sort of personnel move would be needed to actually turn things around for the Bush presidency.
A major newspaper and one of the most pro-Bush voices in punditry are now suggesting that nothing short of removing Vice President Cheney really stands a chance.
The Los Angeles Times editorial board writes: "If President Bush hopes the 'shake-up' of his administration initiated last week will re-energize his listless presidency, he's bound to be disappointed. A far more audacious makeover is needed -- one that sends Vice President Dick Cheney into early retirement."
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should also go, the Times writes. "Bush has acknowledged that he has spent much of his political capital on Iraq, and the way to replenish the reserves is to replace the officials most associated with the overreaching that led to the tragedy in Iraq -- and with the administration's broader disdain for diplomacy."
Sarah Baxter writes in the Sunday Times of London: "Republicans are urging President George W Bush to dump Dick Cheney as vice-president and replace him with Condoleezza Rice if he is serious about presenting a new face to the jaded American public.
"They believe that only the sacrifice of one or more of the big beasts of the jungle, such as Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, will convince voters that Bush understands the need for a fresh start. . . .
"Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard magazine and author of Rebel in Chief, a sympathetic new biography of Bush, said: 'There are going to have to be sweeping personnel changes if people are going to take a second look at the Bush presidency.'
"The best scenario, Barnes added, would be for Bush to announce that 'Dick Cheney will be around as an outside adviser and I can call him on the phone, but I'd like to anoint somebody who I think will be the next leader of the United States.' "
Meanwhile, the normally all-but-invisible Cheney was in full public view on Friday during the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao -- and photographers captured images of a vice president who looked uninterested at best.
Jim Bourg of Reuters caught Cheney in a protocol violation, putting on his sunglasses for the arrival ceremony. Later, during the Oval Office meeting of the two presidents, Tim Sloan of AFP shot Cheney looking for all the world like he was sound asleep -- although White House aides apparently insisted he was just looking at his notes.
Baxter, of the Sunday Times, called attention to Cheney's apparent somnolence, then drily noted: "It has often been said that he would cite medical reasons should he ever resign."
Elisabeth Bumiller writes in the New York Times of "fear and moaning in the West Wing these days," as "no one is sure who is in and who is out. Aides say they are on edge, and [new Chief of Staff Joshua] Bolten has promised more housecleaning this week, after Mr. Bush returns from a trip to California. . . .