- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The re-election of President George Bush is essential to ensure American and even global security against Islamist terrorism. Any possibility his re-election could be in danger should be carefully examined so the possibility can be quarantined like a computer virus.

The November election promises to be close, according to public opinion polls. An immediate question therefore for Mr. Bush is to look around and see whether Vice President Richard Cheney, obviously shell-shocked by the intense Democratic Party smear campaign against him, adds any strength to the re-election campaign or, conversely, detracts from Mr. Bush’s strength. Therefore Bush supporters must ask these six questions:

(1) Is Mr. Cheney a potential hazard to Mr. Bush’s re-election?

(2) Can you picture Mr. Cheney as president?

(3) Is it possible that during the vice-presidential debates, Mr. Cheney might blow his stack as he did the other day with Sen, Patrick Leahy, Vermont Democrat?

(4) Does Mr. Cheney bring any strength to the Bush re-election campaign?

(5) Would Mr. Bush be better off with a replacement?

(6) If yes, who?

Answers:

(1) I think Mr. Cheney presents a hazard to President Bush.

(2) Yes I certainly can picture Mr. Cheney as president but only if face-to-face press conferences are outlawed.

(3) Yes, it is possible Mr. Cheney could lose his temper during a debate and say things that would be unhelpful to Mr. Bush.

(4) I doubt Mr. Cheney brings any strength to the ticket.

(5) No question Mr. Bush would be better off with a replacement.

(6) Who? Condeleezza Rice.

A year ago I wrote a column in which I suggested Mr. Bush could ensure a re-election victory by making a switch in executive positions. National Security Adviser Rice, 50, should get the vice-presidential nomination and Vice President Cheney, 63, should succeed her as national security adviser.

Thus Mr. Cheney, one of the nation’s brainiest officeholders would still be in a position of advice-giver to the chief executive. Perhaps he would by then have learned the meaning of the old saying: Revenge is a dish best eaten cold.

The great advantage of Miss Rice on the 2004 ticket is she could four years later make a splendid opponent to Sen. Hillary Clinton, 57, New York Democrat and the most renowned former first lady since Eleanor Roosevelt.

A Bush-Cheney ticket against a powerful opponent like John Kerry is certain to win a smaller percentage of the women’s and African-American vote. With Condi Rice on the ticket, there is every chance the African-American vote would be split, especially when a Bush victory in 2004 could surely mean a Rice presidential nomination in 2008.

One great advantage of Miss Rice over Mr. Cheney is that, no matter how brutal and mean the media questioners (especially the hate-America BBC, she doesn’t lose her cool.

President Bush has been one of the most fortunate of modern presidents in choosing the people around him. The most important choice, of course, was Laura Bush and then Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Miss Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell. Mr. Bush has done more for “diversity” than a dozen New York Times editorials and Supreme Court decisions.

It is now time to open a new dramatic episode in American history, one that would show the world what our democracy means: the choice of an extraordinarily talented African-American woman to run for president of the United States on the Republican ticket, the party of Abraham Lincoln.

Arnold Beichman, a Hoover Institution research fellow, is a columnist for the Washington Times.

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