Former Vice President Dick Cheney, looking great after his heart transplant surgery, sat down for an interview with Jonathan Karl of ABC News, and made headlines by describing the choice of Sarah Palin for the 2008 presidential ticket as a ???mistake???:
???I like Governor Palin. I???ve met her. I know her. She is an attractive candidate,” said Cheney. “But based on her background, she???d only been governor for, what, two years. I don???t think she passed that test of being ready to take over. And I think that was a mistake.???
He was referring to the test of whether a vice president would be ready to immediately take over for an incapacitated President. Try applying that test to Joe Biden. Or John Edwards.
As a matter of elementary debate logic, it???s true that wildly inadequate selections of vice-presidential candidate ??? or, for that matter, President ??? by one party should not serve as a blanket excuse for the other party to abandon its standards. In other words, it???s possible to critique Republican vice presidential candidates without implicitly endorsing the vision of Joe Biden with his feet propped up on the Resolute Desk, playing with a scale model of Air Force One and asking when he gets his presidential tour of Area 51.
But as a matter of politics, it???s interesting that only Republicans seem to chase big headlines by turning against their own. Has there been a comparably high-profile Democrat who ever offered the same sort of criticism about Biden, Edwards, or other top candidates run by his Party, either successfully or unsuccessfully? Particularly when the target of such criticism goes on to become a prominent and effective advocate for the party and its principles, as Palin has?
Of course not. The Democrats know better than to conduct internecine back-stabbing contests as an Olympic sport, in front of hostile cameras. They know better than to cast retroactive aspersions on previous presidential tickets, or give the other side ammunition to use against the party???s strongest voices.
The Left???s effort to malign Palin, in ways large and small, continues. Just this weekend, CNN decided to introduce a segment on Palin???s support for Chick-fil-A by playing a song called ???Stupid Girls.??? Do you think anyone at CNN would consider introducing Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, or Michelle Obama with that song, even for a microsecond? Of course not. The Left???s attempt to control the public perception of Palin, and our memory of the 2008 campaign, continues unabated, and Dick Cheney just gave them a little more raw material to work with.
In the same interview with ABC News, Dick Cheney leveled some very tough criticism at Barack Obama. Jonathan Karl asked if Cheney thought Obama was worse than Jimmy Carter, and Cheney said ???yes.??? This presents an interesting opportunity to illustrate why it was wrong for Cheney to dismiss Palin the way he did, because while most Americans recall Jimmy Carter as an utter disaster, it is very rare to hear any prominent Democrat describe him that way.
Of course, the media is not interested in maneuvering Democrats into a position where they would be expected to denounce Carter, or make them squirm while refusing to do so. But you???re not going to hear any Democrat with stature comparable to former Vice President Dick Cheney say that Carter???s election was a ???mistake,??? or that he wasn???t ready for the office. Even with decades of perspective, even after Carter has been a thorn in the sides of his Democrat successors, and even though very few Americans would offer a spirited defense of the Carter presidency, top-level elected Democrats will not throw the Rabbit Slayer under the bus??? at least, not in front of news cameras.
Cheney had some interesting thoughts to offer about the vice-presidential selection process, including the observation that every presidential candidate has two veep lists: a list of people he wants to be seen as considering, and a much smaller list of truly serious prospects. But those thoughts could easily have been offered without taking an unnecessary and unwarranted shot at Sarah Palin, who gave the woeful McCain campaign the only signs of a pulse it ever had.
Dick Cheney???s daughter, Liz Cheney, quickly stepped up in Palin???s defense, saying via Twitter, ???Rarely do I disagree with the best VP ever, but Sarah Palin is more qualified than Obama and Biden combined. Huge respect for all she???s done for the GOP.??? So it???s fair to say that Palin enjoys at least mixed support from the Cheney family.