Jewish World Review August 1, 2000/ 29 Tamuz, 5760
Bush's choice of grown-up
Cheney is a stroke of genius
I HADN'T REALIZED how much I've missed grown-ups until I
saw Dick Cheney on television the other night. George
Bush's vice-presidential pick is a sight for
Though Cheney isn't old enough to be my parent -- at
59 he's more like my older brother -- he reminds me of
my parents' generation. That is, mature, no-nonsense,
tempered by hard knocks and experience.
He isn't cute or funny or sexy, except to people like me
for whom competence is tantamount to a candlelight
dinner. He isn't starved for attention or hungry for the
spotlight. You get the secure feeling that if a reporter
caught him jogging and asked what kind of underwear
he prefers, he would shake his head and keep running.
Imagine: Declining to answer a sophomoric question in
the interest of simple dignity. If Cheney's presence in the
presidential campaign distracts even momentarily from
the adolescent preoccupations of the current
administration, his contribution will be worthy of
Bush's decision to bring in a grown-up as his running
mate was a stroke of genius. Who says Dubya's not
Here in the hinterlands beyond the Beltway, Bush
supporters have long maintained that Bush's strength
wasn't so much the man himself as the people he can
bring to the table.
People like Cheney, whose credentials overshadow the
man who may become his hierarchical superior. People
like Gen. Colin Powell, who seems a likely pick for
secretary of state. People like Lynn Cheney, an
intellectual whose own resume suggests something other
than Tammy Wynette, though she's too smart ever to
It's almost comical to watch as mandatory naysayers
search for mud to sling.
Uh, let's see, 20 years ago while serving in the U.S.
House of Representatives Cheney voted against Head
Start! Yes, but, that was then, he says, during the peak
years of our budget deficit when something had to go. In
today's robust economy, Cheney says undefensively, he
would do things differently.
Yes, but he voted against sanctions in South Africa
during apartheid. A mistake given hindsight, but Cheney
is on record opposing unilateral sanctions. One can
comfortably argue that posture amid the leisurely pace
of a Monday-morning post-mortem. For now, his voting
record falls short of political indictment.
The rest of what has been gleaned from the streets falls
on the silly side. In a recent man-on-the-street interview
collage set against cartoonish background music, a
CNN reporter asked random passersby what they
thought of Cheney.
Some said, "Huh, who?" always reassuring and
illuminating as we ponder the education deficit. A couple
of folks older than 45 made salubrious remarks. The
younger crowd adjusted their nose rings and said, "He's
too old." Too old for what, MTV? Last and least,
late-night funnymen suggested Cheney's too dull.
Too old for MTV and too dull for late-night TV?
Could a serious candidate hope for a better
Finding fault with a proven leader for not being a clown
is like criticizing Mozart for not knowing the latest hit
song from Sister Hazel. Or is the problem that true
statesmen make comedic ridicule too challenging for
The night after the Cheneys appeared on Larry King
Live, King interviewed the nine women members of the
U.S. Senate and asked what they thought of Cheney's
candidacy. The women predictably split along party
lines, but all were notably restrained in their remarks.
Even Rep. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., usually fiery and
always direct, chose her words carefully.
One got the feeling that these women didn't want to
offend the folks most likely to host the next inaugural
JWR contributor Kathleen Parker can be reached by clicking here.
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