A happy new week to all! Tonight I am going to offer the first of what will be my “fall back plan” during the holidays. As many of you are aware, I run a sales operation. As such, I am in the busiest 5 weeks of the entire year. A little over 30% of the entire year in sales is accomplished between Thanksgiving and Christmas. What that means for me is, as the boss (and the best at what goes on there 😉 ), I end up with a lot of long days and nights where I need extra sleep. As a result, I am unable to research and write as normal. However, I think there are so many important things going on, I want to ensure that we are still maintaining our edge and having important discussions. So my plan is, on the nights when I am unable to write as usual, I will offer perspectives on what is written by others, allowing some discussions to happen on the subjects in a different way.
Tonight, for example, I offer an article from Fox News that discusses the wish of some Republicans to draft Dick Cheney as a Presidential candidate in 2012. I will quickly hit on that idea, but focus more on a question that the article doesn’t ask: Are the core Republicans, those who feel that Cheney represents them, relevant any longer? So first, the article from Fox:
Draft Cheney? Conservatives Have Competing Visions Over Former VP’s Role
Dick Cheney is clearly enjoying private life, settling into his role as the foremost defender of the Bush administration and one of President Obama’s fiercest sideline critics.
As unlikely as it sounds — and even though Cheney himself describes it as absurd — a movement is afoot to “draft” Cheney into running for president in 2012. Some conservatives want the former vice president to do more than just beat Obama in the press. They want him to beat the president in the polls, too.
Public discontent and anger toward Cheney and the rest of the Bush administration are widely blamed for the success of Democratic candidates in 2006 and 2008. Many Republicans in Congress have taken pains to distance themselves from the Bush years; one of the most withering attacks against John McCain during the 2008 presidential campaign was that he represented a third Bush term.
But Christopher Barron, who last week filed papers to launch his “Draft Cheney 2012” group and Web site, says Republicans need Cheney — that he’s the only one with the experience and conservative credentials necessary to lead the party at a critical juncture in its quest for identity and dominance.
He knows Cheney is opposed to the idea. But that doesn’t matter.
Barron, a political consultant and former political director for the Log Cabin Republicans, said his organization is already attracting contributions and hundreds of followers who want to see Cheney do more with his life.
“This is one of those seminal moments in the history of our party. … What is this party going to stand for?” Barron said. “And I think there is only one man who is capable of bringing the entire Republican coalition together and speaking with clarity about the values that have made our party great. And that is Vice President Cheney.”
So much for moving to the center.
But even among conservative Republicans, Cheney is far from the top choice to lead a Republican resurgence in Washington.
In a poll conducted by The Washington Post last month, only one in about 800 people who lean Republican picked Cheney as the person who best reflects GOP principles.
Last February, when the Conservative Political Action Conference conducted its straw poll asking attendees whom they’d pick in 2012, Cheney’s name wasn’t even on the list. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee topped that roster.
And Cheney, who already decided once not to run when President Bush’s term expired, says he has zero interest in returning to politics. Cheney also has had four heart attacks and would be 71 in 2012.
“Why would I want to do that?” he said in a recent interview with Politico.com. “It’s been a hell of a tour. I’ve loved it. I have no aspirations for further office.”
The man whose extensive career took him from chief of staff under President Gerald Ford to member of Congress to defense secretary to vice president has what appears to be a more satisfying vocation: defending George W. Bush’s administration against any and all attacks from the Obama administration. He’s gone from the shadows of the Bush administration to the glaring spotlight of the interview and lecture circuit.
When Obama started the process of closing Guantanamo Bay and limiting CIA interrogation methods, Cheney blasted him.
When White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said the new national security team had to start from scratch with Afghanistan because the Bush administration left it “adrift,” Cheney blasted him — and accused Obama of “dithering.”
When Holder announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other alleged 9/11 conspirators would be tried in a civilian court on American soil, Cheney blasted him.
He’s also dabbled in playing kingmaker, or queenmaker, endorsing Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the race for Texas governor over incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Perry.
Scott Stanzel, former deputy press secretary to Bush, said Cheney will probably never be convinced to run for president.
“I don’t believe that Dick Cheney has any desire to run for office again and I take him at his word,” Stanzel said, adding that he’s “very influential” in the role he’s already in.
“There are a lot of people out there who feel strongly about his service, but that’s not to say they are advocating for him to run for president,” he said. “I do not think his desire is to define the Republican Party. … He is almost solely focused on defending the policies of the Bush administration.”
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Vice President Joe Biden have both slammed back at Cheney. After Cheney claimed the president was projecting “weakness” in a recent interview by “agonizing” over his war plan, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Tuesday that Cheney’s got little room to talk.
“They started something,” Hoyer said of the Bush administration. “Frankly, they turned tail. I get pretty angry when I hear the vice president talk about something they didn’t finish.”
And the idea of Cheney running has generated a slew of punchy, Chuck Norris joke-esque slogans on the Internet, including: “I know what the hell I’m doing” and “I already control everything — let’s just make it official” and “The only time I’ll bow before a foreign leader is in preparation for an uppercut.”
After Cheney’s daughter, Liz, casually, and perhaps jokingly threw out the idea of “Cheney 2012” on “Fox News Sunday” last month, comedian Jay Leno chimed in on the idea:
“In fact, that’s apparently in the Mayan calendar too, you know. Cheney becomes president, and then the whole world ends. That’s exactly what happens,” he said. Bu-dum-ching.
But Barron said the attention Cheney receives just goes to show how influential he is and could be as a candidate.
“Every time Dick Cheney speaks, it grabs the attention of the entire party and the entire country,” he said.
While the Post poll showed him with scant public backing, another November poll conducted by “60 Minutes” and Vanity Fair showed 10 percent of people view Cheney as the country’s most influential conservative voice — the same percentage that Palin drew. Radio host Rush Limbaugh was the top pick, with 26 percent.
Barron is planning an all-fronts campaign to push his candidate. He plans to have a presence at the Conservative Political Action Conference meeting next year. His group is on Facebook and Twitter and is selling an array of merchandise from “Draft Dick Cheney 2012” mouse pads to coffee mugs to bumper stickers to shirts. Barron said he’ll move next to travel to events sponsored by the conservative Tea Party activists to try to attract more followers.
It’s unclear whether he’ll find an audience. While the Tea Party crowd got involved in the upstate New York Congressional District 23 race to support third-party candidate Doug Hoffman — who narrowly lost — the activists are more focused on pushing conservative economic policy than the hawkish foreign policy that Cheney represents.
“He’s just not a name that comes up one way or the other,” said Jenny Beth Martin, a Republican Tea Party activist in Atlanta. “He’s just not quite on our radar and what we’re focusing on right now.”
I presented the article in it’s entirety here, but if you would like to visit the original it is here: FOXNews.com – Draft Cheney? Conservatives Have Competing Visions Over Former VP’s Role
OK, when I first saw this headline, I actually chuckled a little bit to myself. After all, I recall that when Hillary ran for President, the Republicans had a firm grasp on the concept that she actually had a lot of “negative” ratings, meaning that regardless of who she ran against, over 50% of the country said they would not vote for her. I agreed with the Republicans on that point. I did not feel that she could overcome those negatives and win a general election. The Democratic party knew it to, which is why they made sure the charismatic nobody ended up getting the nomination.
Surely this same Republican party is not silly enough to think that Dick Cheney has a higher “negative” percentage than Hillary Clinton. I would think that Cheney has a lower amount of people that would support him against anyone else than Hillary had. In fact, the only person I think Cheney could win a general election against would be Nancy Pelosi. My bet is that she has the highest number of negative ratings of anyone in politics, worse than Bush or Cheney. But I digress.
I do believe that this is a non-starter. Cheney is a pretty smart guy, and he is as aware of this as we are. Not to mention that I don’t think he want to put himself back in a position where he has to care about people’s reaction to what he says. He likes that he is free to blast away now. And I don’t think he would even begin to entertain the idea of entering himself in a Presidential race.
And to be honest, I like Cheney right where he is. Don’t get me wrong, I think he would tear Barack Obama apart in a Presidential debate. I think Cheney is a tell it like it is guy (or tell it like he wants you to believe it is). He is straightforward, smart, and as the article alludes to, he has been in the political game for a very long time. But I prefer to have him out there just ripping the President a new one whenever needed. I like the fact that he is out there calling the Democrats on the complete lines of bullshit that they are shoveling to the American people. Let him stay right there doing that, where he can do some good.
But the real question I want to discuss comes in the form of the discussion that article begins to have about how Cheney is one of the very few people of stature that really represent the true Republican base. Specifically, the article states, “he’s the only one with the experience and conservative credentials necessary to lead the party at a critical juncture in its quest for identity and dominance.” It further states that a poll over who is the most influential Republican leader had him and Palin at 10% and Rush Limbaugh at 26%. There is a scary thought.
Does it really matter who is the most influential leader in the Republican party any longer? I know that some of the party’s past key points still resonate with many Americans. There are lots of anti-abortion folks out there. But I think fewer of them are in that stance for purely religious reasons than was the case in the past. I think many folks are in that stance because they follow their logic as opposed to because their priest told them that abortion is wrong. And I also believe that a lot of the “smaller government” folks who used to rely on the Republican party are also abandoning the anti-abortion stance because they embrace a concept of individual liberty that doesn’t allow them to dictate to others. And they are abandoning the party altogether because they have found that the party doesn’t really believe in smaller government.
I know that there are some communities where this is not true, but it also seems to me that religion in general is losing its influence in America. Certainly, the majority of Americans still identify themselves as Christians, roughly 70% if I remember correctly. But I feel like far fewer people are regular every Sunday church goers than when I was a kid. In fact, it feels like a vast majority of those age 20-40 have no real tie to the church anymore. And I think that this is reflected in the waning power of the christian right in the political spectrum. There are still tens of millions going to church, but not nearly in the numbers of even two decades ago.
This is backed up by the numbers that I could find from several sites, most of them being religion sites that are concerned about declining numbers. In general the number of people identifying themselves as Christian has dropped from 86% in 1990 to roughly 70% in 2006, more than a percentage point drop a year. Membership in churches has dropped steadily for decades, and at the current rates of change, they estimate that the percentage of Americans identifying themselves as Christian will fall below 50% by the year 2035.
The religious right controlled the Republican party for a very long time. And with religion slipping so rapidly in America, I begin to wonder what the majority of Americans are going to move to. And that brings me to that statement that someone like Cheney, Palin, or Limbaugh represent the true base of the Republican party. That may be true, but if it is true, is the Republican party a fair representative of the American people any longer? Forget the argument that neither party in power truly represents the people… we all know I feel that way. But as a realistic approach, the Democrats in general seem to represent a large portion of the American population. I am not sure that I can say the same if Palin or Limbaugh are who they hold up as the ideal.
And that brings up another point, and that is the stance we see becoming a louder call from the two parties. The outright proclamation that they are going to use all their power to run out of town anyone running in their party who does not represent the “true core” of the party. Democrats want to eliminate the “blue dogs” because they don’t hold the hard far left line. Republicans want to eliminate the moderate Republicans because they have the audacity to be “liberal” on some social issues. Many years ago, the first time I began to question whether I should be a Republican was when I was told I wasn’t a “real” Republican by a major party leader because of my stances on abortion and gay marriage.
So what does everyone think? Is the Republican party as we know it dead? Are the core conservative values that the Republican party intends to hold all candidates to ones that the majority of Americans share any longer. If the Republican party sticks to the idea that people like Palin, Cheney, and Limbaugh are the true representatives of their core values, will they ever see themselves again rising to the level of influence of the Reagan years? I think the Republicans will win back control in 2010, but it will be because American is rejecting the Democrats as opposed to embracing the Republicans. Will it be a temporary surge, or am I way off base on judging the mindset of America?