Arch Chancelor Cheney

It’s pretty much conventional wisdom in politics that no one votes for the undercard. In a general election, people don’t vote for the vice president, they vote for the president. The point in picking a running mate is, therefore, not necessarily pick someone who is a strong leader so much as to pick someone who helps define the contours of a candidate.

An older, more seasoned, presidential candidate may, therefore, pick a younger fresher running mate to imbue a sense of vitality into his own campaign. Likewise, the younger candidate wisely chooses an elder statesman to provide his run with legitimacy. A yankee candidate, like John Kerry for instance, chooses a southern candidate, like John Edwards, to show that the head of the ticket is not out of touch with the ideals and concerns of those below the Mason Dixon line.

Now, I wasn’t particularly involved in politics back during the 2000 campaign, but I imagine going with Cheney was a great idea to those making the choice at the time. Compared to Bush whose previous experience was limited to Governor of Texas, Cheney was the elder statesman with tons of experience in DC. He was an insider’s insider who had the whole schematic of Washington politics memorized, and could navigate the inner workings like a master. Even better, here was a man who clearly had no designs on the Oval Office himself, and therefore wouldn’t try to undercut Bush in the latter years of his term for his own White House bid.

It was a match made in heaven.

Then the whole thing blew up in all of these people’s faces when Dick Cheney opted to declare himself an entity unto his own!

As a fourth branch of government, Arch Chancelor Cheney has placed himself out of reach when it comes to oversight as both a member of the legislative and the executive branch, thereby assuring that he is, from here on out, an immune agent, able to do as he pleases, annointing new senators here and there, scowling at the camera, and making endless bids to bomb Iran.

And as Dana Milbank reports, even the Bush administration doesn’t know how to cope. As White House spokesperson Perino attempted to hold off the throng of reporters shows, Bush’s one time attack dog has broken his leash, and gone off the reservation.

Becareful what you wish for, it may just come true.

Perhaps Cheney’s lack of ambition for the Oval Office stems from his desire to not be pigeon holed by constitutional doctrine, or legislative checks and balances. Perhaps his understanding of the inner workings of DC is a knowledge and power too great for any man to hold responsibly. Whatever the case, those aspects of the Arch Chancelor that made him a viable running mate back in 2000, have proven to be dangerous.

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