by Larry Jordan
W. Bush's bizarre choice of Dick Cheney to be his running mate follows in the tradition of his father, George Senior, who likewise demonstrated an appalling lack of good judgment when he selected the intellectually deficient Dan Quayle to be his Vice President in 1986.
What is it about these Bush guys that they can't seem to get it right?
Ideology aside, one has to wonder about the wisdom of choosing a man like Dick Cheney, who has a history of serious coronary artery disease, to fill a position which could potentially elevate him to the high-pressure, high-stakes job of the nation's Chief Executive? Should there be a situation in which the President is incapacitated or killed, would a man who has had three heart attacks -- including two in election years -- be the sort of person in whom the nation could have confidence to take over in an emergency?
Despite his recent medical exam, statistics suggest that Mr. Cheney is far more likely than other 59-year-olds to have another coronary incident.
This is the best George W. could do in picking a running mate? C'mon!
The choice of Dick Cheney, who served as chief of staff to President Gerald Ford before becoming defense secretary to President George Bush in 1989, dispels any doubts about how beholden "Dubya" is to the old-guard political cronies of his father, the former President. Already, George Junior says that if he is elected, he will bring back many of the tired old Republican trojans that screwed up previous Administrations -- like Schultz, Kissinger, et al. So much for being your own man.
Furthermore, Cheney is the sort of right-wing idealogue who is unlikely to broaden Governor Bush's appeal to independent voters -- an important swing constituency in the upcoming election.
As a Congressman, Dick Cheney opposed creation of the Department of Education, voted against funding the Clear Water Act, and sided with big pollutors when they resisted public release of information pertaining to toxic emissions. He also voted against a seven-day waiting period for handgun purchases, and even opposed bans on armor-piercing bullets that can bypass metal detectors.
But I have a personal reason for disliking Dick Cheney that goes beyond his public record. A few years ago I was scheduled to interview him during his stopover in Des Moines, Iowa. The plan was that I would meet him at his hotel, and sit down for a taped interview, the transcript of which would serve as the basis for a story in my magazine.
As it happened, on the morning of our scheduled interview, my mother-in-law, who had been suffering from a longterm illness, suddenly took a turn for the worse, and ultimately died. As my wife rushed out of town to be at her mother's bedside, I remained at home temporarily with our infant daughter, who happened to be sick with a fever and virus.
Under the circumstances, I did not want to undertake a 110-mile trip to Des Moines to interview Mr. Cheney, and yet I did not want to inconvenience him or shirk my professional commitments. So I called the aide who was travelling with him, explained the situation, and proposed I conduct the interview on the phone instead -- which would still allow me to tape it.
To say this man was graceless is an understatement in the extreme. Cheney's associate -- whose name I have long since forgotten -- began shouting profanities at me and accusing me of standing up the former Secretary of Defense.
Later, when I got Mr. Cheney on the line, and apologetically explained the fact of my mother-in-law's impending death, he did not respond with a single sympathic word. Instead, he rudely brushed aside my apology, and proceeded to prove himself during the course of the interview to be the most pompous ass I'd ever encountered.
Though Dick Cheney is no doubt a man of some intellect, I made a note that day that this guy must have icewater running through his veins. He came off as epitomizing the worst of what the Republican party has to offer, with his elitist manner, self-importance and windy pontificating. Though we only talked on the phone, and never met face-to-face, I have a gut instinct that Dick Cheney is not a guy in whom you can place your faith.
While serving as the head of the committee Governor Bush had appointed to help him select a running mate, Cheney was apparently manuevering to get the job -- all the while handling confidential information on his competitors. As one official quoted by CNN commented, "The more I see evidence he is wiggling to become a candidate, the more I smell a rat."
I hoped then -- and continue to hope -- that this phlegmatic former public official, who has so little empathy for his fellow human beings, never again gets to assume a position of public trust.
July 31, 2000 (http://www.monitor.net/monitor) All Rights Reserved. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for permission to use in any format.
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