Posted on May 12, 2009
In 1993, I tried to get a job with Dick Cheney’s Presidential campaign. I even interviewed with David Addington, the now famous counselor to the Vice President, who apparently was helping the former Defense Secretary assemble a campaign team. As you all know, it fell through because Mr. Cheney decided not to run for President.
I got the interview through my colleagues in Bob Michel’s office. Michel was very close to Cheney, and in fact, was grooming him to be his replacement as the Republican leader in the House.
Bob Michel is one of my personal heroes. He fought and was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge in the Second World War. He was one of the truly great leaders in the history of the House of Representatives. He helped usher through President Reagan’s legislative agenda in the early 80’s. He was a great Republican leader but he is also a gentle soul who saw real battle and put politics in perspective.
It is hard to see Bob Michel ever side with Rush Limbaugh over Colin Powell.
Powell too has seen battle. He too puts politics in perspective. He too is a real leader.
Rush Limbaugh? Well, Rush Limbaugh lost me when he called some military veteran – some random guy who called into his show and dared to question the mighty Rushbo -- a coward because the guy was opposed to torture, and then he had the temerity to say that the military veteran was no Republican. Keep in mind, that guy had been a long-time Republican who voted for McCain in the Presidential election. For me, Rush is an entertaining who is no longer very entertaining.
Cheney must have some personal axe to grind with Mr. Powell. But implying that Rush Limbaugh is somehow more Republican than Colin Powell is not necessarily helpful for the long-term health of the party. While some would like to purge the party of all who think like Colin Powell, I think that would be a big mistake. We need moderates if we are ever to get a majority back.
Cheney has decided that now he has left office that he has some sort of obligation to defend his legacy. He has also decided to become a pundit. The Vice President has paid his dues, and he can say whatever he wants. He has earned the right.
But Cheney made his reputation by keeping quiet, not by shooting off his mouth. He became both respected and feared because he kept his own counsel. He kept his cards close to the vest, and his reticence served him well.
Today, he has decided to keep showing all of his cards at almost every moment. And guess what? He doesn’t have a very strong hand. His reputation is damaged, his poll numbers are terrible, and the more news he makes the worse it gets.
I am personally a very big fan of the Vice President. But that doesn’t mean that I want to see him in the news every day. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but how can the American people learn to love Mr. Cheney again unless he is absent from the national stage for a while?