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Jewish World Review July 26, 2000 / 23 Tamuz, 5760

Cal Thomas

Cal Thomas
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Consumer Reports

Cheney offers stability
after a wild ride --
HE'S NOT FLASHY, or mean, or so abrasively partisan he can't do business with Democrats. He has domestic political and foreign policy experience. He knows Congress and the White House because he has served in both branches. And he can be tough when called for. And he's loyal.

Dick Cheney, Gov. George W. Bush's vice presidential choice, is remembered by former Sen. Malcolm Wallop, his fellow Wyoming Republican, as a man "who knows the difference between the truth and a lie.'' Wallop, who first met Cheney when Cheney was President Ford's chief of staff, served with him throughout much of his congressional career. "He's short on charm, but long on character,'' Wallop told me in a call to his Montana home. "If the public is as tired as they say they are of `no controlling legal authority,' they'll be pleased to know that Cheney's controlling legal authority is the law and the Constitution.''

Cheney is not much of a debater, said Wallop, and "not a dazzler, but he's a solid rock of integrity and competence.''Wallop implied that if the campaign is about who is more trustworthy, Bush-Cheney will win in a landslide.

Cheney's last foray into presidential politics came four years ago when he was a senior strategic advisor to the Dole campaign. Contrasting the Clinton-Gore administration with Dole, Cheney asked, "Do we want to elect a president with a clear understanding of foreign affairs, or one who stumbles from one international crisis to the next? ... Do we want to elect the better man for America, or settle for an incumbent who has failed to live up to his promises?'' We know how the voters answered those questions.

Bush and Cheney
Cheney's post-mortem on President George Bush's failed reelection effort may give insights into how he'll approach the coming campaign. In an interview on National Public Radio on Jan. 23, 1993, just three days after the Clinton-Gore administration took office and Cheney became a former secretary of defense, he said, "... the campaign was, in many respects, misguided, because we managed to conduct a presidential election and (got) a government that's going to rule for the next four years, without any significant reference whatsoever to what's going on in the world around us -- just sort of had tunnel vision focused on what we thought was a serious set of problems here in our economy at home.''Cheney said not one of our problems was so bad that we could not overcome it as, indeed, we have economically (if not culturally), but as the lone superpower, "you cannot ignore what's going on around us in the world.''

As for issues, political reporter and columnist David Broder wrote in 1993 as he speculated about a possible Cheney presidential bid: "Cheney's congressional voting record is conservative enough on all litmus-test issues, including abortion, to satisfy the Reaganites who form the hard-core constituency of the nominating primaries.'' And Lynne Cheney, wrote Broder, "is a heroine to conservatives for her stands on political correctness and multiculturalism'' while she headed the National Endowment for the Humanities. "But their friendships and alliances span the Republican spectrum.''

Cheney is a nice guy who will be hard to demagogue and demonize, though Democrats will certainly try. Look for them to claim that Bush the younger had to reach back to "Poppy's'' men for mature leadership, implying that Bush can't lead. But Bush can lead. He's done so as governor of Texas and now with a solid pick for a running mate. Bush has often said that his vice presidential selection wouldbe the most important decision he makes this year and will tell people a lot about him. It is and it has.

Bush-Cheney may not be exciting, but after what this administration has put the country through for eight years, we could all use a little rest and some serious men with integrity in the White House.

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