There’s been some speculation about Bush replacing Cheney. With the issues of Halliburton scandals, the fabled link between Iraq and Al Qaeda, and the F-bomb, there are some good reasons for Bush to consider it. Even more interesting is this poll by Newsweek (full details).
According to this poll (with all the caveats necessary for a single poll four months before the election), Bush/Cheney lose to Kerry/Edwards by 6%. However, Bush/Powell and Bush/McCain win by 9% and 2%, respectively (Bush/Frist does even worse than Bush/Cheney). Should Bush drop Cheney for Powell or McCain?
The great advantages that Cheney brought to Bush in 2000 were gravitas and Foreign Policy experience. After Bush’s three years in the White House, it’d be impossible to argue that Bush doesn’t have the exposure to the foreign policy world now, so those reasons to keep Cheney are gone (although I’d argue what he’s done in the three years raise more questions about his foreign policy competence, even if the exposure is greater). And there are many who view Cheney as a negative now. As Knight Ridder says,
Four years ago, Cheney was widely seen as a steady, experienced backstop for Bush, who was then an untested former Texas governor. Now he’s more often viewed as the driving force behind Bush’s most controversial moves, starting with the war in Iraq.
Despite these problem, I highly doubt that Bush will replace Cheney. Bush is considered very loyal to aides who are loyal to him, and Cheney has always been loyal to the Bush family. Also, a change now could be seen as a sign of panic. Bush also depends on Cheney as an experienced VP like few, if any, presidents have done before.
Finally, I don’t think Bush wants to work with Powell or McCain. Powell’s term as Secretary of State hasn’t worked well for either Bush or Powell, and most speculation is that Powell will not want to be around for a second Bush term. McCain is even more problematic, due to the nastiness of the 2000 South Carolina primary and McCain’s tendency to think for himself (very much out of vogue in the GOP today).
So, I think Bush will keep Cheney. Bush favored relationships and governing skills over electoral advantage in 2000, and I think he will again this year. I really hope that this contributes to both of them needing to find another job early next year.