Opinion: Cheney in 2012? Now there’s a real September surprise

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When George W. Bush selected Dick Cheney to be his running mate in 2000, some political observers thought it was a smart move.

After all, Cheney had cut his political teeth working for the candidate’s father and had already endured several heart attacks. So, the thinking went, the 60-year-old Cheney would not be a political rival to the new president, staging occasional rear-action insurrections, just a steadying veteran hand.


Right. In fact Cheney became the most powerful vice president in history, and Barton Gellman argues in his book ‘Angler’ that Cheney did most of the steering in George W. Bush’s first term.

Now, nine years later, having survived heart seizures and eight years of the Bush administration, Cheney has emerged as an energizing force in Republican politics, becoming the most outspoken Bush-era critic of the Obama administration.

While the former president maintains a dignified public silence about his views, his former vice president has turned into a media pit bull -- accusing the new president of putting the country at risk by closing Guantanamo Bay and banning torture, accusing Atty. Gen. Eric Holder of politicizing the fight against terrorism by investigating CIA interrogators.

On Moday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs let him have it, accusing the former vice president of getting his facts wrong, of ‘the same song and dance we’ve heard almost from the first day.’ Now comes James Taranto, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, who is suggesting that Cheney would be a terrific presidential candidate in 2012. If national security emerges as the key issue in the election, he argues, “Republicans would be wise to nominate someone with both toughness and experience. Under such circumstances, it’s hard to think of a better candidate -- assuming, of course, that he could be persuaded to run -- than Richard B. Cheney.”

The calculus: If the Afghanistan war worsens, it will become Obama’s war. And if terrorists attack this country again, a fierce voice on national security might have a chance. Plus, Cheney is writing his memoirs, a sure route to the presidency.

-- Johanna Neuman

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