Prof. Ken Bode on Dick Cheney and the New Power of the Vice Presidency
June 19, 2004
June 19, 2004, Greencastle, Ind. - "On a recent trip to China, Vice President Dick Cheney gave a speech to university students," begins this week's op-ed by Ken Bode, Eugene S. Pulliam Distinguished Professor of Journalism at DePauw University. Writing in today's Indianapolis Star, Bode continues, "The first question from the audience began with a premise: 'Mr. Cheney, we understand you are the most powerful vice president in American history.' America may be experiencing some intelligence problems of late, but there is nothing wrong with Chinese intelligence. Cheney modestly brushed aside any such notion, but the student was right. This is why it is important to pay attention as John Kerry sorts through his vice presidential possibilities. It may be the most important decision he makes."
Four years ago, candidate George W. Bush tapped Cheney to be his running mate. "Looking over reports from that summer four years ago, it is hard to find anyone who believed that Cheney would be the influential administration figure he has become. Nor did anyone predict that Cheney's worldview on foreign affairs would lead (or push) the president in the direction it has," Dr. Bode states. "It was not widely reported, for example, how hawkish Cheney had been as secretary of defense in Gulf War I, pushing for the military option against Saddam Hussein... Cheney's first job as vice president was to manage the transition. He used that position to successfully advocate that his old friend Donald Rumsfeld return to the Pentagon. Along with Rumsfeld came Paul Wolfowitz, a neoconservative full-mooner on the evils of Saddam. Wolfowitz, in turn, brought along Ahmed Chalabi, the dissident who spun sugar-plum visions of how easy it would be to overthrow Hussein and install an American-style democracy."
In closing, Bode, former senior political analyst at CNN, asserts, "we went to war based on discredited intelligence with a force commitment too small for the job and no real plan for Iraq after Hussein was gone. Now the 9/11 commission has reported that there was no Iraqi complicity in the attacks on the world trade center. Only days ago, Cheney was still insisting on that connection. Remember, he lunches privately with President Bush every Thursday. Some vice presidents are more equal than others. That's why we need to keep an eye on what John Kerry is up to."