Former Vice President Dick Cheney is writing his memoirs. That in itself is something of a surprise, because Cheney has long -- and openly -- disparaged people who do. The presidency is owed loyalty, or anyway that was Cheney's view when folks like former Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill and former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan told tales out of school.
But now, writing his own account of his eight years as George W. Bush's vice president, Cheney is telling friends that "the statute of limitations has expired" on tensions between them. As Time magazine reported last month, Cheney was furious at Bush for not pardoning I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the vice presidential aide who, in Cheney's words, "was asked to stick his neck in the meat grinder" by not disclosing all he knew about who leaked CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to the press.
Writing his memoirs out in longhand on yellow legal pads, Cheney is apparently sharing his recollections with groups of friends and associates, sort of prepping them for the disclosures to come in his 2011 book.
And, some of those friends have been talking to the Washington Post. After one group session, a Cheney associate told the Post's Barton Gellman that the former vice president was mad at "43" for being "shackled" by public opinion:
"In the second term, he felt Bush was moving away from him. He said Bush was shackled by the public reaction and the criticism he took. Bush was more malleable to that. The implication was that Bush had gone soft on him, or rather Bush had hardened against Cheney's advice. He'd showed an independence that Cheney didn't see coming. It was clear that Cheney's doctrine was cast-iron strength at all times -- never apologize, never explain -- and Bush moved toward the conciliatory."
Some conservatives rebut the argument, noting that Bush was nothing if not stubborn in the face of political and public opposition. Commenting on the story, former Republican Rep. Joe Scarborough noted on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that Bush was defiant about the buildup of troops in Iraq despite the polls.
But apparently Cheney, sometimes called the Darth Vader of American politics, even disagrees with his old boss about what constitutes a good book.
Told in one session that Bush, in his own memoirs, hoped to explore his personal feelings, Cheney responded that he had no intention of doing that. "He sort of spat the word 'personal,' " said one person in the room.
Gov. Sanford says his career is over
Once touted as a possible Republican candidate for president in 2012, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford -- who ran off to Argentina in June to visit his mistress -- announced Thursday that his political career was over.
"This is truly not about Mark Sanford anymore," the two-term governor said during a speech to the Twin City Rotary Club in Batesburg-Leesville. "A lot of folks were convinced that I was running for president. My political days are over."
First Lady Jenny Sanford and the couple's four sons moved out of the Columbia, S.C., governor's mansion this month for their beachfront home in Sullivan's Island, 100-some miles southeast of the capital.
Mark and Jenny Sanford, a former Wall Street executive, say they are working to repair their marriage of 20 years. Asked Wednesday how he is coping with living in the empty mansion, Sanford replied, "That part's hard."
"There are consequences for any mess-up we have in life, and that's one of them, and that's probably the most bitter part of it," he said, adding the move was a family decision to protect the children. "These boys deserve to be out of the fishbowl that they have been in and been subjected to a lot this summer."
Sanford said he had done a "thorough job of discrediting himself" but thinks the voters of South Carolina are ready to move on and willing to let him finish the remaining 16 months of his term.
Palin's popularity plunging; or is it?
Sarah Palin, the wife of a popular Arctic snow machine racer who also once served as Alaska's first female governor, seems to find her own popularity plummeting.
According to numbers atop a new poll by CNN/Opinion Research, the hockey mom's favorable rating in a survey of at least 1,136 adult Americans has plunged seven points since May. A significant drop.
She went from 46% favorable down to 39% a few days after she left office 17 months early, purportedly to save Alaska from more partisan attacks on her. And, who knows, maybe to plan some future political activity in other states.
Palin, who plucked Sen. John McCain from political obscurity in Arizona as her GOP running mate last summer, enjoyed her highest popularity right after a rousing speech at the Republican National Convention in early September. She was at 57% then, but much higher among Republicans and conservatives.
Down near the end of the CNN poll story, we learn the margin of error for the entire poll is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
But wait. In the last sentence we also learn that the margin of error for the smaller Republican poll sample is plus or minus 6.5 points. Which means, statistically speaking, that Palin could actually be just about as popular right now as she was in May, despite all the ensuing ethics/resignation/quitting kerfuffle.
Top of the Ticket, The Times' blog on national politics ( www.latimes.com/ticket), is a blend of commentary, analysis and news. These are selections from the last week.