Tuesday, June 26, 2007



Richard Lugar, one of the more knowledgeable and serious-minded of the woeful nitwits who make up the Republican Senate caucus, could have been in a coma for the last seven years. And before he entered the coma, he could just as well asked Dick Cheney to cast all his votes for him. Look at Lugar's Iraq voting record; Cheney could have cast these votes without so much as a grimace.

So it may have surprised a few people today when Lugar suddenly woke from his long coma, with a start, looked around at what had been done, and said, "Oh, my! What's happened here?" He's demanding that Bush and Cheney start looking at diplomatic and economic options and start de-emphasizing the role of the military. Suddenly he's telling his fellow senators that the Bush Regime's reckless and deceitful policies in Iraq have "lost contact with our vital national security interests in the Middle East and beyond. Our continuing absorption with military activities in Iraq is limiting our diplomatic assertiveness there and elsewhere in the world. The prospects that the current “surge” strategy will succeed in the way originally envisioned by the President are very limited within the short period framed by our own domestic political debate. And the strident, polarized nature of that debate increases the risk that our involvement in Iraq will end in a poorly planned withdrawal that undercuts our vital interests in the Middle East. Unless we recalibrate our strategy in Iraq to fit our domestic political conditions and the broader needs of U.S. national security, we risk foreign policy failures that could greatly diminish our influence in the region and the world."
It sounds very much as though the first thing that Lugar picked up when he awoke from his long sleep was a copy of the Center For American Progress Iraq exit strategy. His speech incorporates it's most salient ideas. C.A.P. has a video of the speech online.

So with Capitol Hill all abuzz about Lugar's new state of alertness and trying to figure out what it means, Sally Quinn drops a not unrelated bombshell in this morning's Washington Post, A GOP Plan To Oust Cheney.
As the reputed architect of the war in Iraq, Cheney is viewed as toxic, and as the administration's leading proponent of an attack on Iran, he is seen as dangerous. As long as he remains vice president, according to this thinking, he has the potential to drag down every member of the party-- including the presidential nominee-- in next year's elections.

Removing a sitting vice president is not easy, but this may be the moment. I remember Barry Goldwater sitting in my parents' living room in 1973, in the last days of Watergate, debating whether to lead a group of senior Republicans to the White House to tell President Nixon he had to go. His hesitation was that he felt loyalty to the president and the party. But in the end he felt a greater loyalty to his country, and he went to the White House.

A careful read of Quinn's column seems to indicate that even if Barry Goldwater wasn't doing bong hits with her parents in the living room in 1973, she is certainly doing them-- or something akin to them-- in 2007. Her column is a kind of "Everybody loves Fred" fantasy about Thompson being appointed vice president and rescuing the GOP from certain doom at the polls next year.
He could be just the partner to bring out Bush's better nature -- or at least be a sensible voice of reason. I could easily imagine him telling the president, "For God's sake, do not push that button!"-- a command I have a hard time hearing Cheney give.

Not only that, Thompson would give the Republicans a platform for running for the presidency -- and the president a way out of Iraq without looking like he's backing down. Bush would be left in better shape on the war and be able to concentrate on AIDS and the environment in hopes of salvaging his legacy.

Cheney is scheduled this summer for surgery to replace his pacemaker, which needs new batteries. So if the president is willing, and Republicans are able, they have a convenient reason to replace him: doctor's orders. And I'm sure the vice president would also like to spend more time with his ever-expanding family.

Time for Ms. Quinn to look for another job, like reading Mother Goose in pre-schools. And time for Cheney, if he really intends to stick to his claim to be a member of the legislative branch, to start listening to what the legislative branch is saying. He might start with this clip from Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ):

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