Wednesday, June 11, 2008


At The Page, Mark Halperin has a post entitled "McCain's Cheney Problem." It's basically just a link to this Politico story by Jonathan Martin -- a story that only seems to be about a "Cheney problem" in the McCain campaign:

What should McCain do about Cheney?

He's a highly effective fundraiser in an election cycle where Republicans are starved for cash, a hero to the wing of the party that views John McCain with the most suspicion. He has four decades of campaign experience, ranging from a short stint running Gerald Ford's election bid in 1976 to two successful races on the presidential ticket.

Yet despite that pedigree, Vice President Dick Cheney is unlikely to share a stage with McCain anytime soon -- and may not be called on to play any role at all in the 2008 presidential campaign.

In part, it's a reflection of political expediency. Though Cheney is one of the nation's most influential and talked about vice presidents ever, his favorability ratings are near toxic lows.

But Cheney and McCain also have had a rocky relationship.

They have clashed publicly and privately during the Bush years on matters ranging from the treatment of terrorist detainees to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Most recently, they've been on opposite sides on the idea of a gas tax holiday and on a Cheney-backed energy bill.

As a result, Cheney finds himself on the outside looking in....

What's the point of this story? It's not to tell us that there's a regrettable amount of bad blood between the veep and the candidate. It's to tell us: Hey, look! It's me! The Maverick! I'm not John McSame! I'm not running for Bush's third term! I don't even like Dick Cheney! DID YOU GET THAT? IF NOT, I'LL REPEAT MYSELF: I DON'T EVEN LIKE DICK CHENEY!!!

McCain has had trouble getting people to believe he won't be a Bush clone, so it's awfully thoughtful of Jonathan Martin to give him a big hand in that effort.

In fact, as we learn well into the article, Cheney's very much being the good soldier for his alleged enemy:

...[Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne] McBride emphasized that Cheney supports McCain and mentions him in all his political speeches....

Though it has been little-noticed, Cheney has again taken with gusto to the GOP's rubber chicken circuit.
In the last two months alone, he's headlined 11 Republican fundraisers, keynoting for Senate and House candidates, state parties and the Republican National Committee's Victory fund in states ranging from Colorado to Florida to Minnesota.

In the weeks ahead, he’ll raise cash for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the Wyoming GOP and a Georgia congressional candidate.

In addition, he'll speak before friendly interest groups to help push the conservative message. He’s scheduled to speak Wednesday to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors....

And McCain actually likes the big lug:

...In an interview he gave to the Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes in 2006 for Hayes's biography, "Cheney: The Untold Story of America's Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President," McCain said: "I will strongly assert to you that he has been of enormous help to this president of the United States."

Going further, McCain even told Hayes in comments heretofore unpublished that he'd consider Cheney for an administration post.

Asked whether he'd be interested in Cheney had the vice president not already have served under Bush for two terms, McCain said: "I don't know if I would want him as vice president. He and I have the same strengths. But to serve in other capacities? Hell, yeah." ...

But all that is deep into a story the lead of which is JOHN McCAIN: MAVERICK REPUBLICAN. And that's how it will be summarized by pundits.

I hope Martin's check is in the mail.

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