Saturday, November 13, 2004
Curses, Foiled Again
Vice-President Dick Cheney once again disappointed Democrats by surviving a mystery illness that required him to be hospitalized. When ABC interrupted its college football coverage today with report of Cheney's hospitalization for what is now described as "shortness of breath," Democrats thought their prayers for his sudden death had been answered. Apparently the president intervened by praying for Cheney's speedy recovery.
This does raise an interesting question: what happens if the Veep dies before Dec. 13, the date electors cast their ballots and re-elect Bush and Cheney as president and vice-president? The short answer is: the electors can do whatever they want. Some states require their electors to vote for whom they're slated, but it's not clear whether they'd be required to vote for a dead man. One option is to posthumously re-elect Cheney, and then appoint a new vice-president. The other option is for the Republicans to put forward a nominee before Dec. 13 and encourage the electors to vote for this man.
This is where things get interesting, and it poses a significant test of the Republicans' unity: who the Hell would they pick? And would they try to wait or get it done early?
I'll take the latter question first. It's likely they'd try to wait because (a) they'd probably want to "honor" Cheney by re-electing him and (b) they'd need to buy time to find the right candidate. However, the longer they wait, the more potential for dissension and politicking for the job threatens to tear the party apart. So, the best case scenario is they have someone in mind who meets their ideological standards, won't piss off the party, and won't mind waiting until Jan. 20 to be appointed and confirmed.
So, we come back to the first question: who would be that person?
Jeb is out because of post-JFK anti-nepotism laws. Presumably that rules out daddy, too.
Would he go for some Reds from the Blue States? Does Giuliani's 9/11 associations trump his socially liberal background? He probably plays better nationally than he does to the Far Right. Does Pataki get to be the Nelson Rockefeller of his generation? Can the executive branch afford to have two lightweights at the top of the management pyramid?
An obvious choice is Sen. Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader. He's on the short list for '08 for sole reason that he's the beloved of W. However, Tennessee has a Democratic governor and presumably he'd pick a Democrat to replace Frist. Would the Republicans trade a Senate seat to get Frist into the VP slot? Probably, but not necessarily.
If they would, it'd be funny if Gov. Bredesen selected one Albert Gore, and almost as funny if he picked Rep. Jim Cooper, who lost to Frist for this same Senate seat in 1994. I think we can count Gore out, but you never know. Cooper would be the favorite, but it might be interesting to see Rep. Harold Ford get the leg up as he may have planned a run for Frist's seat in '06.
If they wouldn't, or if found Frist to be more valuable as majority leader, who else is there? Ashcroft needs a job. Or maybe Zell Miller. (Ever the comedian.) McCain leaps to mind, and Democrats would love to push him for the spot. But he has the same Democratic governor problem, and it's not clear the Far Right would support him. Neither is he "on board" with the neo-Con agenda. I'd say he's probably out. Powell has the stature, but probably wouldn't be considered or consider it if offered for similar reasons.
Would he try to make history and appoint Condi? Imagine a black woman a heartbeat away from the presidency: would the South go for it? Apart from her disappointing foreign policy analytic skills and national security mismanagement, you would think her lack of domestic policy experience would be a drawback, too.
I am skipping over some obvious names like Hastert and DeLay becasue they seem to have too much baggage and are too valuable running roughshod over the House. I suppose Frist is the most likely choice and the Republicans can afford the seat. Second best bet is Rice. I'll have to think some more on who else to consider.
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