Would An Impeachment Of Cheney Allow Bush To Create An Incumbent?


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Under the U.S. Constitution, president George W Bush is not allowed to seek a third term. Current vice president Dick Cheney has said he will not run. This leaves the country with an incumbent free presidential election for the first time since Coolidge refused to seek re-election in 1928. Replacing Cheney, through impeachment or resignation, could give the Republicans an incumbent in the 2008 presidential election.

In most elections, incumbency is an important key to winning. It can, and has, made a significant difference. Name recognition, if nothing else, can be a big factor.

Consider congressional elections where typically 95%, or more, of incumbents are re-elected. Some of that is do to gerrymandering, but some of it is due to name recognition and other factors. Incumbency can often be the factor that explains the apparent cognitive dissonance we see in political opinion polls:

What is more amazing still, is the belief on both sides of the aisle, that while Congress is clearly broken, it is not the voter's direct representative that is the problem. If you compare the 16% approval rating for congress with the approval rating for any incumbent in any race, you will see the individual candidates rate better than congress as a whole.

Incumbency can be a factor in presidential elections as well. Consider the 1972 presidential election. Richard Nixon was running a very unpopular war and yet still managed to carry 49 of 50 states in his re-election.

In 1972, over 56,000 Americans had died in Viet Nam, an order of magnitude more than those who've died in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Viet Nam War was contained to Southeast Asia, whereas the War On Terror seems to be global. It would have been easier to call an end to the war in 1972 and not feel we were inviting the enemy to come attack us than it is now. Given those truths, you have to believe that someone with pro-war sentiments will prevail in this election.

Some Democrats sense that a pro-war, anti-terror message is what will prevail, but they try to straddle the fence and believe they can be for pulling out of Iraq at the same time. These candidates are trying to morph together a message that they feel will appeal to the broadest spectrum of voters. The trouble is, as we saw in 2004, they will be demolished in a debate as they try to justify their seemingly duplicitous stance.

Americans have traditionally viewed the Republicans as the party of national security. A pro-war republican will have automatic, unquestioned credentials to protect the nation. A pro-war, republican, sitting vice president would own the national security issue.

Some might argue that since the Democrats control Congress, Bush would have a tough time getting his choice of replace vice president, confirmation requires a simple majority in both houses -- something I believe the president could secure for any candidate he chose. The democratic majority is largest in the house, but several of the democrats elected in 2006 are so-called "blue-dog" democrats who are typically conservative and come from conservative constituencies. They will likely find themselves pressured to confirm a vice president molded in Bush's image.

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