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February 19, 2005
More Cheney Rumormongering

World Net Daily reports on rumors supposedly floating around DC -- again -- that Dick Cheney will step down from his position in order to allow Condoleezza Rice to replace him as Vice President. The rumor has Cheney resigning due to his health sometime next year and Rice replacing him in time to build credibility as a presidential candidate for 2008:

Vice President Dick Cheney likely will step down next year due to health reasons and be replaced by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, according to a report by geopolitical expert Jack Wheeler.

On his website, To the Point, Wheeler reports there's a "red-breasted rumor bird" flying around Capitol Hill that has whispered the same thing to most congressional committee chairmen.

"We all know that Dick Cheney has been the best vice president of modern times, perhaps in American history," one such chairman told Wheeler. "And we know that he absolutely will not run for president in 2008. Further, he has an unfortunate history of heart trouble. So let's just say none of us will be surprised if, sometime next year, he will step down from the vice presidency due to his health."

Continued the source: "Should this happen, President Bush would need to appoint his replacement, just as Richard Nixon chose Gerald Ford to replace Spiro Agnew. It is quite clear to us whom the president would choose should he need to: Condoleezza Rice."

This rumor probably gained some ground last week when another rumor floated out of the Potomac swamps that George Bush had taken to calling Rice "44", a nickname that appeared more to tease her about outside pressure for her to run than any desire of her own. However, Rice has never given any indication that she wants to get into electoral politics, as much as Republicans would like her to do so. Her positions at NSA and the State Department haven't exactly been springboards for political careers in American history, either.

No one doubts the star quality of Condi Rice, and as an eloquent African-American woman, her brand of conservatism would provide a powerful punch against Hillary Clinton, who most pundits consider the Democratic front-runner in 2008. But that was equally true in 2004, and Bush could have used that star power more against Kerry than in 2006. Rice easily laps Cheney in popularity and could have attracted more interest from women and black voters, transforming a close election into a landslide. Surely if the political machinations of the GOP consider that Rice is their next superstar, they would have asked Cheney to step down last year from the ticket and allowed Bush to reap the political benefits of having the first African-American VP candidate on the ticket.

I have no doubt that Wheeler has picked up on cocktail-hour dish here, but that's all it is. Either that, or some elements of the GOP have decided to try a whispering campaign to convince Cheney that they want him out and Rice in for the final campaign cycles of the Bush administration. If that's the case, they should prepare themselves for disappointment. It didn't happen in 2004 when it actually could have had some material benefit for Bush, and it's not going to happen later, when it takes his best diplomatic representative out of play during a second term in which he needs to pressure Europe to start doing the right thing.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 19, 2005 8:02 AM

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