The Corner

Politics & Policy

This Is Not Surprising, But It Is Important

Unlike the two Presidents Bush, whom he served (Bush I) as secretary of defense and (Bush II) as vice president, Dick Cheney has come out in favor of Donald Trump. Cheney is not just the most eminent of GOP éminences grises, he is one of the coolest political calculators around – and he has never shown a willingness to be ruled by the moral orthodoxies of mainstream consensus. He was willing to overrule traditional objections when it came to the controversial practices known to some by the phrase “enhanced interrogation”; and he was equally resistant to traditional standards when he came out in support of gay marriage. In both cases, he ended up – a lot earlier than most folks – on the side that would eventually become America’s national consensus.

That he favors Trump is one of the most important indications I’ve seen that resistance to Trump will not turn out to be as strong as it looks now, at least on the right. (Resistance might crumble in the center and on the left, too, with the result that Trump becomes president; but we’re not seeing much evidence of that quite yet.)

Cheney is not a guy who is ruled by emotion; he looks, with a cold eye, at the bottom line. I have disagreed with him on some of his past judgments, and I expect that I will continue to disagree with him on this one. (No, I do not think Trump should be president.) But in the Republican/conservative world, he is respected in a way that the Bushes are not – so his endorsement doesn’t just matter; it’s probably a bellwether. That one of the architects of the Iraq War supports a man who says Bush lied us into that war (and blames him for 9/11, to boot) . . . well, let’s just say the writing on that wall is big enough I don’t need to put on my spectacles to read it.

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