Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Cheney Out in 2007?

Insight, the magazine of the Washington Times, is saying that Vice President Cheney will retire after the 2006 mid-term elections.

Vice President Dick Cheney is expected to retire within a year.

Senior GOP sources envision the retirement of Mr. Cheney in 2007, months after the congressional elections. The sources said Mr. Cheney would be persuaded to step down as he becomes an increasing political liability to President Bush.

The sources reported a growing rift between the president and vice president as well as their staffs. They cited Mr. Cheney’s failure to immediately tell the president of the accidental shooting of the vice president’s hunting colleague earlier this month. The White House didn’t learn of the incident until 18 hours later.

Mr. Cheney’s next crisis could take place by the end of the year, the sources said. They said the White House was expecting Mr. Cheney to defend himself against charges from his former chief of staff, Lewis Libby, that the vice president ordered him to relay classified information. Such a charge could lead to a congressional investigation and even impeachment proceedings.

“Nothing will happen until after the congressional elections,” a GOP source said. “After that, there will be significant changes in the administration and Cheney will probably be part of that.”

Color me skeptical. Although this is coming from the magazine of a paper that is owned by a religious lunatic and whose editorials make Rush Limbaugh sound like Abbie Hoffman, they have, according to Raw Story, a sketchy track record on investigative journalism.

I think it would be a political earthquake that would further destabilize the administration and confirm its lame duck status. Even if they are able to pull off replacing Cheney with someone that they envision could assume the presidency or be on the fast track to the White House in ’08 — Sen. George Allen or Condoleezza Rice — the damage would already be done, and doing it fourteen months before the Iowa caucuses would be like trying to change the tire on a moving car.

I also think that Dick Cheney wouldn’t willingly give up the most powerful position he’s ever held, and if anyone — including the president — tries to force him out, he knows where the bodies are buried. Given his recent activities, I’m not sure I’m speaking figuratively, either.