January 30, 2006
GETTING IT WRONG: It’s an issue of The Economist from November, but the “Lexington” column, which is often quite good, contains this howler: “The rumor-mongers interpret Mr. Cheney’s recent ubiquity as more proof that he is desperately trying to save his job.”
Er, except that, you know, the Vice President can’t be fired. Cheney holds an independent office, and doesn’t work for Bush. It’s possible that he might be persuaded to step down in favor of someone (*cough* Condi *cough*) else, but there’s no desperation involved. He could spend the next almost-three years hunting pheasants and fly-fishing and nobody could say boo. Any “rumormongers” saying otherwise are probably fellow British journalists who don’t understand that either . . . .
I don’t want to be too hard on “Lexington,” which is actually quite a good column in general. But I showed that passage to several colleagues (none of them people who would likely be upset if Cheney were fired) and all of them laughed. At least, said one, it wasn’t an American journalist making that mistake, though that would be no great surprise if it happened. Perhaps someone should set up seminars for foreign journalists on how the Constitution works.
UPDATE: Various readers note that Cheney’s widespread responsibilities within the Adminstration aren’t part of his official VP duties, and he could be relieved of those any time Bush wanted a different straw boss. True enough, but that’s a bit different from “desperately trying to save his job.” Others note that Cheney would probably step down if asked, for the good of the party. No doubt, and in fact I kind of expect him to do so before too terribly long, to help set up a successor. But that’s not the same, either.