local weather Click for Sun Valley, Idaho Forecast
 front page
 last week
 express jobs
 about us
 advertising info

 sun valley guide
 real estate guide
 sv catalogs



Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of September 11 - 17, 2002

Opinion Columns

Cheney: a Veep 
like no other

Commentary by PAT MURPHY

In remembering U.S. presidents in my lifetime, I don’t recall any vice presidents being political forces. As No. 2 men, most were rarely seen, heard even less.

A few escaped obscurity. Harry Truman became president. So did Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford and George Bush the Elder.

A few became celebrities for the wrong reasons. Nixon’s holier-than-thou first vice president, Spiro Agnew, resigned after admitting he took bribes and evaded income taxes earlier in Maryland government. Dan Quayle provided reliable fodder for "Saturday Night Live" sketches with convoluted metaphors and boyish naivete.

Not in modern history has a vice president been seen and heard on major policy as much as Bush the Junior’s veep, Dick Cheney, who functions as surrogate president.

Besides shaping energy policy, he now emerges off and on from secure hiding places to explain his boss’s threat to attack Iraq, trying to convince Congress and the public that Bush’s plans are virtuous. So, it’s no coincidence that Cheney’s safety in secret hiding places is regarded as more important than the president’s.

Cheney was at it again Sunday for a full hour on "Meet The Press," speaking in the third person about what "the President" thinks and why. Washington politicians and media seem to care more about what Cheney thinks than what Bush says. I doubt "Meet the Press" ever gave a full hour to another vice president.

That’s new. In past crises, presidents Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush the Elder and Clinton were out front in a variety of venues and settings talking frankly to the public. Their vice presidents were attending state funerals or presiding over the Senate.

Except for carefully orchestrated partisan political venues, President Bush the Junior ducks and leaves the talking to Cheney.

Bush compares his style to a corporate CEO who delegates. Most CEOs of any note, however, don’t delegate vice presidents to explain major life-or-death issues like this president.

Suspicions grow that White House big thinking is handled by Cheney, aided by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, National Security adviser Rice, political strategist Rove and Secretary of State Powell. Bush presumably accepts whatever advice is given and allows aides to speak for him.

Onlookers need compare Bush to his inner circle. The president repeats rehearsed phrases from one appearance to the next on a narrow set of topics, but stumbles on questions outside his script.

Cheney et al, however, are eloquent, spontaneous, nimble in fielding complex questions and steeped in the history of issues now confronting the nation.

No one disputes that President Bush is woefully short on skills his chief aides have in profusion. The danger of a president weak on skills required in the Oval Office—and who’s so dependent on strong-willed advisers—is that he’s apt to make decisions based on whoever gets closest to him with the last word, rather than on thorough and scholarly evaluation of many viewpoints.

One can reasonably argue that ultra-hawks who’re frantic to race into Baghdad with guns blazing shaped Bush’s threat to attack Iraq without first explaining why.

As Professor Edward Haley, of Claremont McKenna College, commented on National Public Radio:

"(A)nti-Saddam strategy has been run backwards. It would make sense to identify the Iraqi threat in a credible way, nurture support carefully at home and abroad and end with an invasion. But the administration began by announcing it would invade Iraq and now it's trying to find the reasons and support to do it."



Mountain Jobs

Formula Sports

Idaho Conservation League



Edmark GM Superstore : Nampa, Idaho

Premier Resorts Sun Valley

High Country Property Rentals

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.