Sunday, August 31, 2008

Cheney Vice Presidency Provides Model for McCain-Palin

A joke going around, following Sarah Palin announcement as John McCain's running mate, is that the Alaska Governor's a great pick for vice president - she's a better shot than Dick Cheney.

Thus with all the attention to Palin's experience for the job,
today's New York Times piece on Vice President Cheney's last months in office provides some perspective on the question of experience in the No. 2 spot.

Cheney's been at the top levels of Washington politics for nearly 40 years. As one who's pushed the institutional boundaries of the office more than any vice president before him, it's interesting that Cheney sees the job as primarily advisory:

Mr. Cheney has ... fundamentally reshaped ... the vice presidency. Fueled by a belief in a strong presidency and American hegemony, and with the help of a president, George W. Bush, who gave him an extraordinarily free hand, he has stretched the limits of the job in ways his predecessors could not have imagined....

But on Jan. 20, 2009, after a career in Washington that has spanned four decades, the 67-year-old vice president will have a new job description: retired. As Mr. Cheney prepares to make the transition to private citizen, a portrait is emerging of a man who is unapologetic, even defiant, but also thinking about his legacy and perhaps confronting the limits of his own power....

“My job as vice president is as an adviser,” Mr. Cheney said. “I don’t run anything. I’m not — it’s not like being secretary of defense when I had four million people working for me.” This comes as no surprise to those who have heard him say the Pentagon job was his favorite. He spoke of “the understandings” he reached with President Bush, that this would be no ordinary vice presidency.

“And he’s been absolutely true to his commitment to me,” Mr. Cheney said, “which was I’d have an opportunity to be a major participant in the process, to be part of his government, to get involved in whatever issues I wanted to get involved in.
With this in mind, critics of McCain's judgment in selecting Sarah Palin might consider widening their gaze a bit.

The Alaska Governor's being lauded as epitimizing the anti-establishment reform zeal shaking the electorate this year. Palin obviously lacks national security credentials like Cheney's. But with a personal history as a trailblazing small-government reformer
who's felled far-more experienced political giants in her path, Palin complements McCain's "maverick" identity with populist reinventing-government moxie (one of her first acts after taking office was to sell the governor's jet on eBay), while simultaneously bringing considerable expertise on questions of energy policy and the environment (she chaired the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, resigning the office in protest against Randy Ruedrich, Alaska's state Republican Party chairman who Palin alleged was moonlighting as a fellow oil commissioner at taxpayers' expense).

Palin's assets as a rising star in conservative politics, her frontier family values, and her own energy, fitness, and lust for life have thrown the entire left-wing political establishment off guard.

Elite, mainstream blogs have latched onto the leftosphere's conspiracies over the alleged Palin "baby cover up," and every other conceivable leftist double-standard has been deployed in breathless attacks against her, from incest to infidelity to indifference to the care of her children.

The more this goes on, the more clear it becomes that McCain made absolutely
the best vice-presidential selection possible.