Bush admits he considered replacing Cheney in 2004

posted at 2:55 pm on November 3, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

In 2003 and 2004, pundits created a cottage industry out of speculation that George W. Bush would dump Dick Cheney from the ticket in his ultimately successful re-election bid.   The arguments were that Cheney had become too unpopular and was perceived as too dominant, and that Bush would need to find another VP to establish himself as his own man.  Most people dismissed the idea as far-fetched, but according to Bush’s new memoirs, Bush wasn’t one of them:

President George W. Bush considered dumping Vice President Dick Cheney from his 2004 reelection ticket to dispel the myths about Mr. Cheney’s power in the White House and “demonstrate that I was in charge,” the former president says in a new memoir.

The idea came from Mr. Cheney, who offered to drop out of the race one day during a private lunch between the two men in mid-2003. “I did consider the offer,” Mr. Bush writes, and spent several weeks exploring the possibility of replacing Mr. Cheney with Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the majority leader, before opting against the switch.

“While Dick helped with important parts of our base, he had become a lightning rod for criticism from the media and the left,” Mr. Bush writes. “He was seen as dark and heartless – the Darth Vader of the administration.” The president resented the caricature that Mr. Cheney really controlled the White House. “Accepting Dick’s offer would be one way to demonstrate that I was in charge,” he writes.

But in the end, Mr. Bush writes, “the more I thought about it, the more strongly I felt Dick should stay. I hadn’t picked him to be a political asset; I had chosen him to help me do the job. That was exactly what he had done.” Mr. Bush wrote that he trusted Mr. Cheney, valued his steadiness and considered him a good friend. So, “at one of our lunches a few weeks later, I asked Dick to stay and he agreed.”

Actually, that wasn’t the first time that Bush had proposed kicking a sitting VP off of a ticket for help in a re-election campaign.  In 1992, he tried convincing his father to dump Dan Quayle to improve chances of beating Bill Clinton.  Who did Bush propose to replace him?  Dick Cheney.

Not that everything remained cozy between Cheney and Bush, before or after the 2004 election.  Bush got annoyed with Cheney’s public politicking for an attack on Iraq in 2002 while Bush tried to close all of the other possibilities out more sequentially.   To no one’s surprise, Cheney became unhappy when Bush finally fired Donald Rumsfeld the day after the 2006 midterm elections, and scolded Bush for not issuing  a pardon to Scooter Libby, claiming that Bush’s decision would “leave a soldier on the battlefield,” a comment that “stung” Bush, he admits in his memoirs.  Despite the sharp differences in their final two years together, Bush and Cheney remain friends.

That’s probably not true of Harry Reid, though.  Bush takes aim at the Senate Majority Leader for his statement that the war was “lost,” calling it “one of the most irresponsible acts I witnessed” in his presidency.  Bush also reveals that Mitch McConnell approached him more privately in 2006, asking Bush to start reducing troops in Iraq after the security plan for that year began falling apart.  Bush instead sent more troops in the “surge” strategy, with which McConnell ultimately agreed and supported in the Senate.

The memoirs sound like an interesting look at the inside of the Bush administration.  The Times blurb indicates that Bush will offer few regrets and instead offer a detailed defense of his actions for people to consider when looking at his presidency in historical context.  Will that prompt a re-evaluation of his administration?  We’ll certainly see, but it seems as if the relentless blame-Bush strategy of his successor has already begun that process, if not to Bush’s benefit then certainly to Obama’s detriment.


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We should have replaced Bush with a real conservative in 2004.

csdeven on November 3, 2010 at 2:57 PM

Limp Frist? The one Harry Reid ran rings around in the Senate?

Wethal on November 3, 2010 at 3:00 PM

I may wait til the book hits the library, but it might be worth the read.

capejasmine on November 3, 2010 at 3:00 PM

But in the end, Mr. Bush writes, “the more I thought about it, the more strongly I felt Dick should stay. I hadn’t picked him to be a political asset; I had chosen him to help me do the job. That was exactly what he had done.”

I suspect that President Bush will continue to handle his interview book tour with respect and class – as always.

Say what you want about the Bush family – they always represent themselves and the nation with the utmost CLASS.

jake-the-goose on November 3, 2010 at 3:00 PM

*shrugs

The Bush/Cheney years are behind us.

In the words of getalife working at MSNBC

Come on, cons. Let’s move forward.

MeatHeadinCA on November 3, 2010 at 3:01 PM

We should have replaced Bush with a real conservative in 2004.
csdeven on November 3, 2010 at 2:57 PM

Like…?

joejm65 on November 3, 2010 at 3:01 PM

So what? Every president has a duty to review every position in his administration.

mankai on November 3, 2010 at 3:02 PM

“While Dick helped with important parts of our base, he had become a lightning rod for criticism from the media and the left,” Mr. Bush writes. “He was seen as dark and heartless – the Darth Vader of the administration.”

I don’t see the downside here.

Vashta.Nerada on November 3, 2010 at 3:03 PM

Is that why he shot him with a shotgun?

lwssdd on November 3, 2010 at 3:04 PM

OT: History Channel currently running show on American Nazi history… coincidence?

jp on November 3, 2010 at 3:04 PM

I may wait til the book hits the library, but it might be worth the read.

capejasmine on November 3, 2010 at 3:00 PM

If you have a device that downloads books (Kindle or iPad), you can buy a digital copy of Bush’s book for $9.99. It’ll be downloaded to your system on 11/9. I’ll be chilling in the north Georgia mountains on 11/9, so I’m looking forward to reading this during some down time…

joejm65 on November 3, 2010 at 3:05 PM

rofl @ ‘The idea came from Mr. Cheney…’

gh on November 3, 2010 at 3:07 PM

The man and his family love this country and are proud to be Americans. I am proud of him and wish the new President liked our country even half as much.
I can’t wait to buy the book ! I miss ya President Bush!

SgtRed on November 3, 2010 at 3:11 PM

Vice-President Cheney got me through Sept 11, 2001 and every day since then, even now that he is mostly out of commission.

myrenovations on November 3, 2010 at 3:11 PM

My collie says:

Hah! That’s nothing. We considered dumping Bush back in 2000. Unfortunately, the other choices were people like Maverick.

And the rest is history.

CyberCipher on November 3, 2010 at 3:12 PM

He decided against letting him go right after Cheney “accidentally” shot Harry Whittington with a shot gun.

Rod on November 3, 2010 at 3:12 PM

I never liked Cheney. I felt that while it was unfair to say that Bush lied about Iraq, Cheney at least stretched the truth in order to make the case for war. That’s why I wanted Bush to dump Cheney, making the ticket less vulnerable to charges of dishonesty. And, honestly, is there anything notable Cheney did as Vice President in the second term that he couldn’t have done as a Jarrett-type adviser?

calbear on November 3, 2010 at 3:13 PM

Actually, that wasn’t the first time that Bush had proposed kicking a sitting VP off of a ticket for help in a re-election campaign. In 1992, he tried convincing his father to dump Dan Quayle to improve chances of beating Bill Clinton. Who did Bush propose to replace him? Dick Cheney.

Convolution of whatever wins.

maverick muse on November 3, 2010 at 3:15 PM

Obama has probably been considering replacing Biden since 10 minutes after he chose him.

angryed on November 3, 2010 at 3:15 PM

Wouldn’t it have been better to dump Bush from the ticket?

burt on November 3, 2010 at 3:16 PM

Say what you want about the Bush family – they always represent themselves and the nation with the utmost CLASS.

jake-the-goose on November 3, 2010 at 3:00 PM

YES. This man never did one thing to demean or degrade the office.

Compare/contrast.

Rosmerta on November 3, 2010 at 3:16 PM

Rod on November 3, 2010 at 3:12 PM

No he decided against letting him go after Whittington apologized to Cheney for wasting Cheney’s ammunition.

lorien1973 on November 3, 2010 at 3:16 PM

Dick Cheney and his daughter can debate flawlessly, solidly.

There are all sorts of reactions to the truly persuasive speaker who wouldn’t dream of reading a teleprompter when addressing children.

maverick muse on November 3, 2010 at 3:17 PM

Obama has probably been considering replacing Biden since 10 minutes after he chose him.

angryed on November 3, 2010 at 3:15 PM

No, no, that was the best decision he ever made!

Hee.

Rosmerta on November 3, 2010 at 3:17 PM

I hadn’t picked him to be a political asset; I had chosen him to help me do the job.

Obviously the statement of leader, not a politician.

Will that prompt a re-evaluation of his administration?

By the Leftists? Not in my lifetime. Leftists are quite simply, too corrupt to acknowledge that they are ever wrong.

About anything.

EVER.

oldleprechaun on November 3, 2010 at 3:17 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oz5PjwUX8fA

maineconservative on November 3, 2010 at 3:18 PM

And, honestly, is there anything notable Cheney did as Vice President in the second term that he couldn’t have done as a Jarrett-type adviser?

calbear on November 3, 2010 at 3:13 PM

The things he did we’ll probably never, ever hear or read about nor will we ever learn where the bodies are buried. (he says only half jokingly)

Rod on November 3, 2010 at 3:19 PM

Obama has probably been considering replacing Biden since 10 minutes after he chose him.

angryed on November 3, 2010 at 3:15 PM

No, no, that was the best decision he ever made!

Hee.

Rosmerta on November 3, 2010 at 3:17 PM

Ok, Ok. We should give Obama credit for getting that right.

Although it is sad that it has so far been the best decision he ever made.

Lily on November 3, 2010 at 3:24 PM

rofl @ ‘The idea came from Mr. Cheney…’

gh on November 3, 2010 at 3:07 PM

You’re not the only lib on the floor today.

Patrick S on November 3, 2010 at 3:27 PM

…maybe it’s a good thing that Mitch McConnell will not be Senate leader…

runner on November 3, 2010 at 3:28 PM

Cheney was the (main) reason I voted for Bush in my first election. Well that and because the alternative was John Kerry.
Lame President, but great Vice-President.

Grayson on November 3, 2010 at 3:30 PM

This man never did one thing to demean or degrade the office.

I agree that Bush certainly observed decorum in public, regardless of the degree of actual persecution from the Marxist media.

Regarding his stylistic delivery, former-Nazi university professor illustrated auf Deutsche in class how to sing-song the most offensive insult to ridicule a person who doesn’t speak German.

Bush didn’t demean his office. On the contrary, Bush wildly augmented federal powers, augmenting even further the powers of the potus.

Bush did issue his executive order demeaning and degrading the Constitution, instigating imbalance of powers not simply with the Patriot-Act/DHS that disproportionately destabilizes the Constitution’s Balance of Powers as seen with Obama/Napolitano. But further, Bush’s departing executive order made the US Secretary of the Treasury AUTONOMOUS, beholden to no one, neither Congress nor the Judicial Branch, and while Treasury Secretary actually not even beholden to the POTUS who’s only alternative to reprimand would be to terminate the Secretary’s tenure.

Everyone has forgotten that it wasn’t the Democrats who first cornered constitutional conservatives to tag as vigilantes. That was Bush smearing Arizona volunteers who relay real-time information to Border Patrol, “vigilantes who need to be stopped,” according to Bush.

maverick muse on November 3, 2010 at 3:32 PM

I’ve got my copy preordered. Just waiting for it to be delivered.

Kevin71 on November 3, 2010 at 3:34 PM

He considered dumping Cheney?

I considered tossing my ex-wife out the window of a plane once, but it didn’t have one of those handles to open it. So I just went back to sleep. I was having a good dream then – about Angelina Jolie.

perroviejo on November 3, 2010 at 3:35 PM

Cheney “accidentally” shot Harry Whittington with a shot gun.

Rod on November 3, 2010 at 3:12 PM

/ In the face, not in the back. /

maverick muse on November 3, 2010 at 3:35 PM

So what? Every president has a duty to review every position in his administration.

mankai on November 3, 2010 at 3:02 PM

My thoughts exactly.

Ward Cleaver on November 3, 2010 at 3:36 PM

Sounds like a must-read.

Bush is still the 2nd best president of the past 50 years, and will be remembered by history as the man who turned around a recession, prevented a 2nd recession after 9/11, and TRIED for years to prevent the coming collapse (over 25 times) but was blocked by Democrats. As James Taranto, a formidable presidential historian in his own right has pointed out, history does not punish presidents for what they try to accomplish and fail.

He will also be remembered as the man who won the Iraq war — which had been going on since his father’s administration, and turned an avowed enemy of the United States into a Democratic ally, and brought Democracy to the heart of the most tyrannical region on earth.

And if there is any justice in history, he will be remembered as the man who yes, increased spending on two wars, a department of Homeland Security that he OPPOSED, a less onerous prescription-drug benefit that the voters overwhelmingly wanted in 2000 (sorry, that’s just reality, go back and look at the polls), BUT then had the budget deficit back on track to be eliminated by 2010 — until Democrats took over and tripled it, then quadrupled that, while WITHHOLDING the budget from Bush so he couldn’t veto it.

He wasn’t perfect, but he was a damn good president. His biggest fault was not defending himself. He forgot that when he refused to defend himself, he was also refusing to defend his supporters.

American Elephant on November 3, 2010 at 3:37 PM

I understand that he was leagues ahead of Obama but Bush, much like his father, was not a particularly good President. He wasn’t a bad one, but he wasn’t a good one either.

Grayson on November 3, 2010 at 3:38 PM

While I like Cheney, I never understood choosing him as VP. I thought Bush should have chosen someone who could run for president at the end of his term and Cheney certainly didn’t fit the bill. If we had had a strong VP to go up against Øbama instead of a tired, old retread, things might have been different in ’08.

Kafir on November 3, 2010 at 3:38 PM

Not surprised at Mitch McConnell’s move.

But Frist? And seriously (for weeks apprarently)?

Sir Napsalot on November 3, 2010 at 3:39 PM

In the face, not in the back. /

maverick muse on November 3, 2010 at 3:35 PM

You gotta love a guy who looks you right in the eye before he shoots you.

Rod on November 3, 2010 at 3:42 PM

All of the Left’s “Blame Bush” mantras do is highlight the fact that W love America and Barry doesn’t.

Iblis on November 3, 2010 at 3:43 PM

“loved” not “Love”

Iblis on November 3, 2010 at 3:44 PM

“loved” not “Love”

Iblis on November 3, 2010 at 3:44 PM

“Loves” not “loved”

:-)

Rod on November 3, 2010 at 3:47 PM

While I like Cheney, I never understood choosing him as VP. I thought Bush should have chosen someone who could run for president at the end of his term and Cheney certainly didn’t fit the bill. If we had had a strong VP to go up against Øbama instead of a tired, old retread, things might have been different in ’08.

Kafir on November 3, 2010 at 3:38 PM

I doubt it. The Left/Media went full on crazy to destroy a man who was never, ever going to run for another political office. They would have kicked it up a notch for a younger guy with a good ticker.

myrenovations on November 3, 2010 at 3:48 PM

I suspect that President Bush will continue to handle his interview book tour with respect and class – as always.

Say what you want about the Bush family – they always represent themselves and the nation with the utmost CLASS.

jake-the-goose on November 3, 2010 at 3:00 PM

Bush won’t say that he needed voters to “punishing their enemies” when asking for Republican votes.

jeffn21 on November 3, 2010 at 3:50 PM

Cheney volunteers to step aside for the good of Bush and the country. That sounds just like Cheney. He is a humble classy patriotic guy who is more concerned about the country than for himself. And then Bush refuses to take his offer because Bush is the same kind of classy humble patriotic guy. You may not agree with everything they did (I don’t) but you have to admit that they were and are genuinely decent people. So unlike what we have in their positions today.

mydh12 on November 3, 2010 at 3:56 PM

Bush and Cheney, two class acts. We owe the Surge to Cheney, and undoubtedly much else.

paul1149 on November 3, 2010 at 4:09 PM

No, no, that was the best decision he ever made!
Hee.
Rosmerta on November 3, 2010 at 3:17 PM

Unfortunately, he may be right.

LASue on November 3, 2010 at 4:12 PM

If only Cheney had considered replacing Bush.

They are both patriots and class acts, but Cheney obviously lost power in the second term to the detriment of the country.

Now that the midterms are over, let me be the first to say:

Liz Cheney 2012

Terrie on November 3, 2010 at 4:18 PM

If only Cheney had considered replacing Bush.

They are both patriots and class acts, but Cheney obviously lost power in the second term to the detriment of the country.

Now that the midterms are over, let me be the first to say:

Liz Cheney 2012

Terrie on November 3, 2010 at 4:18 PM

You stole my thunder.

JellyToast on November 3, 2010 at 4:25 PM

Cheney at least stretched the truth in order to make the case for war.

-snip-

And, honestly, is there anything notable Cheney did as Vice President in the second term that he couldn’t have done as a Jarrett-type adviser?

calbear on November 3, 2010 at 3:13 PM

How did Cheney “stretch the truth”? Credible cites, please.

As far as answering your second question, he kept the Left in hysterics for that second term. That ranks as a major plus in my book.

Del Dolemonte on November 3, 2010 at 5:34 PM

Liz Cheney 2012

Terrie on November 3, 2010 at 4:18 PM

Awesome lady. I also saw her name floated for RNC Chair. She deserves a role.

alwaysfiredup on November 3, 2010 at 5:39 PM

calbear on November 3, 2010 at 3:13 PM

Wake up. This isn’t the CNN blog room. You are clueless about Cheney and it shows. We would probably have had Pres. John ‘I served in Viet Nam’ Kerry if it weren’t for Cheney keeping Bush somewhat to the right of a RINO.

Sporty1946 on November 3, 2010 at 5:59 PM

OT: History Channel currently running show on American Nazi history… coincidence?

jp on November 3, 2010 at 3:04 PM

The Hitler Channel strikes again.

annoyinglittletwerp on November 3, 2010 at 6:49 PM

To no one’s surprise, Cheney became unhappy when Bush finally fired Donald Rumsfeld the day after the 2006 midterm elections, and scolded Bush for not issuing a pardon to Scooter Libby, claiming that Bush’s decision would “leave a soldier on the battlefield,” a comment that “stung” Bush, he admits in his memoirs.

He should’ve been stung because it’s the truth. Bush fecklessly allowed the left to run amok and did nothing to stop the persecution of soldiers, border patrol agents, and his own Vice President’s chief-of-staff. Disgusting.

The firing of Rumsfeld was sudden, crude blame-shifting. While Bush did nothing personally to disgrace the office, he allowed Scott McClellan to humiliate himself and the administration daily for three years.

It is telling that Bush even considered dumping Cheney for Frist. He might as well have done so, since he ignored the man for the last half of his benighted administration.

The book I will be reading is by Dick Cheney.

Feedie on November 3, 2010 at 8:12 PM

Too late to defend yourself, Mr. President.

Those who could have been convinced, had it been done at the time it was needed, no longer care.

Those who didn’t need convincing have newer concerns and won’t care either.

Bush let himself be ridden like a mute mule by his LOUD. slandering, demonizing opposition for 5 years without a serious reply in defense of his decisions or to mock their lies and idiocies.

Cheney was the backbone of a very weak Administration.

Whose overall=lame response to “Bush Lied, people died!” shinola allowed / encouraged / brought on the 2006 Dem dominance.

And no thanks to Bush, but to the Tea Party conservatives, and Sarah Palin, the Dems have gotten their comeuppance for fiscal lunacy and partisan uber-arrogance.

I’d rather read newly-elected, Iraq war hero Lt. Col.Allen West’s memoir.

profitsbeard on November 3, 2010 at 9:55 PM

Mr. President, how could you even think of getting rid of Dick? He’s my favorite.

mmcnamer1 on November 3, 2010 at 10:19 PM