The Dick Cheney shooting incident will, in a way, go away. And, in a way, not--ever. Some things stick. Gerry Ford had physically stumbled only once or twice in public when he became, officially, The Stumbler. Mr. Ford's stumbles seemed to underscore a certain lack of sure-footedness in his early policies and other decisions. The same with Jimmy Carter and the Killer Rabbit. At the time Mr. Carter told the story of a wild rabbit attacking his boat he had already come to be seen by half the country as weak and unlucky. Even bunnies took him on.
Same with Dick Cheney. He's been painted as the dark force of the administration, and now there's a mental picture to go with the reputation. Pull! Sorry, Harry! Pull!
George Bush, and so the men and women around him, will want the next Republican presidential nominee to continue the U.S. effort in, and commitment to, Iraq. To be a candidate who will continue his policy, and not pull the plug, and burrow through.
This person will not be Dick Cheney, who has already said he doesn't plan to run. So Mr. Bush may feel in time that he has reason to want to put in a new vice president in order to pick a successor who'll presumably have an edge in the primaries--he's the sitting vice president, and Republicans still respect primogeniture. They will tend to make the common-sense assumption that a guy who's been vice president for, say, a year and a half, is a guy who already knows the top job. Anyway, the new guy will get a honeymoon, which means he won't be fully hated by the time the 2008 primaries begin.
This new vice president would, however, have to be very popular in the party, or the party wouldn't buy it. Replacing Mr. Cheney would be chancy. The new veep would have to get through the Senate, which has at this point at least three likely contenders for the nomination, at least two of whom who would not, presumably, be amused.
Plus there's more quiet anti-administration feeling in the party than is generally acknowledged, and the president's men know it. A lot of people would find such a move too cute by half. The contenders already in line--and their supporters, donors, fans, staff and friends in the press--would resent it. Big time.
Of course, all this is exactly like the sort of thing people blue-skied about in 1992, when George H.W. Bush was in trouble and a lot of people urged him to hit refresh by dumping Dan Quayle. He didn't. George W. Bush loves to do what his father didn't.
Who would it be? Someone who's a strong supporter of Iraq, and, presumably, the Bush doctrine.
Who would that be? That's what I suspect the president's men are asking themselves. But silently.
Out loud would be better, but I'll take 'silent'. As long as they throw the Dark Lord overboard. Go read the rest.