Politics & Policy

America, It’s Cheney Time

She's ready.

Editor’s note: This column is available exclusively through United Media. For permission to reprint or excerpt this copyrighted material, please contact: Carmen Puello at cpuello@unitedmedia.com.

Rudy? Fred? Mitt? McCain? Some Republicans seem not to know how to handle a situation in which the current vice president is not the obvious successor to the current president.

Well, fine. I have a solution: Cheney 2008.

Lynne Cheney, that is.

The beloved wife, mother, and grandmother is an accomplished historian and the author of over ten books, several of them bestsellers. As a former National Endowment for the Humanities chairman and current American Enterprise Institute fellow who has been married to a White House chief of staff, defense secretary, and vice president, Mrs. Cheney certainly knows her way around Washington.

She has been book touring of late, going on near every talking-head show, including the hostile Daily Show. That she had no fear going on Jon Stewart’s patronizing comedy news show is no big surprise. Lynne Cheney is a woman who knows how to make herself heard.

Recall that in a 2004 debate, John Kerry tried to use the Cheneys’ daughter, who is gay, against President Bush, who supports a federal amendment to protect traditional marriage. Lynne Cheney shot back the next day, calling “a cheap and tawdry political trick” and that Senator Kerry “is not a good man” for lowering himself.

Or check out that much-viewed YouTube of her having her way with Wolf Blitzer when he decided to grill her on U.S. torture policy instead of her children’s book, The 50 States: A Family Adventure Across America. She not only ably defended the administration, but also turned the tables on the veteran newsman, scolding CNN for its airing of enemy propaganda. Lynne — who once worked for CNN as a co-host of Crossfire — is a media-savvy lady.

And an independent one, too. Rather than join the conventional chorus that reflexively venerates former Democratic presidents — especially when they build houses — Mrs. Cheney bridled when asked about Jimmy Carter’s description of her husband as a “militant.” She said: “I really lost respect for Jimmy Carter in 1991. . . . He didn’t like the idea that we were going to get a United Nations resolution to kick Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. And so, he, as a former president, took it upon himself to write heads of state, urging them not to let their representatives in the United Nations vote for the resolution, supporting the action in Kuwait. You know, that — he really has crossed some kind of line here.” Lynne Cheney loves her country and won’t let anyone tear it down — TV network or former president.

And she’s even been a candidate before — or close enough. When Dick was recovering from a heart attack during a run for the House in 1977, she was his stand-in. Cheney biographer Stephen Hayes writes that “by all accounts, she filled in well.”

And while I don’t agree with her on every policy issue — e.g., she’s against a federal amendment to protect traditional marriage — I find her demeanor and approach to life overwhelmingly refreshing. Unlike so many women pols, she just does it. It’s only natural for her. Her new book, Blue Skies, No Fences (Threshold), is a delightful memoir of more innocent days. She was raised with, literally and figuratively, “no fences”: She does not see herself as a gender victim.

Cheney writes: “It never occurred to me that my chances of doing this were diminished because I was a girl. . . . My first-grade readers might show mothers at home and fathers off at work, but I saw my mother working and my grandmother, too. My female teachers . . . were role models of amazing strength. And while the girls I knew had few opportunities to shine on athletic fields, they were always finding skills they would perfect.”

The best reason to back Lynne Cheney for president, though, is the sheer fun of it: She would shake up the race, and she would make watching it a treat. The woman knows what she wants to say and says it well — which would take some stress off her natural allies. Moreover, she has declared herself “uncomfortable” with the thought of Hillary Clinton as president, and has voiced a preference for “politicians that are more in the Dick Cheney mold, who say what they mean and mean what they say”; I’d call that fire in the belly. Run, Cheney, run!

© 2007, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.


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