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April 23, 2006
It Rises From Its Grave!

Once again, the Rice-for-Cheney meme has arisen like a zombie from a bad movie, only now it walks the earth in London where the Times reports that Republicans have urged the change on George Bush. Supposedly, the only way to address the dissatisfaction within GOP ranks will be to push Dick Cheney out as VP and nominate Condoleezza Rice as his replacement:

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.

The jittery Republicans claim Bush’s mini-White House reshuffle last week will do nothing to forestall the threat of losing control of Congress in the November mid-term elections.

Fred Barnes, one of my favorite writers, gets extensively quoted in this article as arguing for a dramatic change. Other GOP analysts get quoted for noting a malaise among the ranks. The Times also notes that the picture of Cheney supposedly napping during the visit of Hu Jintao again raises the possibility of a medical excuse for stepping down from office, allowing Bush to regretfully accept Cheney's departure while making the change to Rice.

Well, maybe. It's not outside of the realm of possibility, certainly. However, Bush gave Rice a task in the second term that he sees as a high priority -- clearing the Department of State of its entrenched and politicized bureaucracy, a similar mandate to that of Porter Goss at CIA and almost as important. That job has just begun, and it's hard to imagine another person with the tremendous public image necessary to face down the anklebiters at Foggy Bottom. Moving Rice out of State would put an effective end to any attempt at reform.

Secondly, although Rice might take the job if Bush pressed her on it, it doesn't present her with any intellectual challenge whatsoever. Cheney has been an unusually active vice president, but he still doesn't have the flexiblity and the opportunity to make the impact that the Secretary of State does. Rice, who has spent her life in the study of foreign relations, has in her hand the pinnacle of that pursuit. Would she willingly give it up just to become the world's most prominent second banana, even in an administration structured to give that position more power? I doubt it.

The time for this change would have been 2004, when it could have had a real impact on the electoral politics. I need to hear a specific argument about any specific race contested this year where moving Rice from State to VP would win an election for the Republicans. What Senate seat will that capture? Which House district will go GOP on the basis of this change? Which governorship will come to the Republicans if Bush dumps Cheney for Rice, or for anyone else? None, and that's why this is a rather silly argument. The changes required at the White House have to do with improving communication and refining tactics towards achieving the administration's goals, and Rice serves an important role at State in both functions.

Of course, it's hard to take this report too seriously when the reporter, Sarah Baxter, cannot get her facts straight. At the end of the article, she says that Richard Nixon was impeached. Nixon never got impeached; he resigned before the House could vote on the articles pf impeachment that surely would have passed.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 23, 2006 10:29 AM

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