A Problem in the Bunker; Cheney Has Long Been Bush's National-Security Hole Card. but Lately Some Wonder If He's Dragging the President Down
Byline: Tamara Lipper and Evan Thomas
Is Dick Cheney a drag on the ticket? As President Bush's rating dips below 50 percent, some prominent Republicans are beginning nervously to wonder. "The chatter on Cheney has increased in the last two weeks," says Republican strategist Scott Reed. "Cheney has moved into the Bush world; you either love him or hate him." The charge that the Bush administration hyped the WMD threat from Iraq has thrust the vice president into the spotlight, a place he generally prefers not to be.
There was a time when Cheney's presence in the White House was regarded as reassuring. With his thin record on foreign affairs and national security, George W. Bush seemed a little callow when he took office. Cheney, the former White House chief of staff under Gerald Ford and Defense secretary under the first President Bush, was a gruff, taciturn old hand who looked as if he were comfortable sleeping in a bomb shelter. But as Cheney disappeared into his "undisclosed location" after 9/11, surfacing only occasionally to warn of dire threats from terrorists with germs and nukes, he began to look a little bit less like Gary Cooper and more like Dr. Strangelove.
White House politicos have not been insensitive to the problem, and lately Cheney has been appearing more in public. But only the president (possibly) can tell him what to say, and the vice president has continued to offer his gloomy world view. No one has appeared more scornful of the United Nations or other multilateral organizations than Cheney, so it seemed like a peace offering to the globalists when Cheney agreed to speak at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last month. …