Wednesday, June 27, 2007

If I Were President Bush ...

... I'd be taller, wealthier and more aerobically fit than is in fact the case.

And if I learned that my trusted Vice President had been disobeying my direct orders, and pressuring me into unwise policy decisions by bureaucratic end-runs around my cabinet and staff, all leading to a series of bad judgments that imeriled both national security today and my legacy tomorrow -- well, I'd sit him down for a heart-to-heart.

And it would go like this:

"Dick, from now on you follow my orders. Dismissed."

Of course, I would also be smart enough to know he wasn't going to listen, and that -- feeling cut out of the loop -- he would be more dangerous than ever, both to America and to me personally. Because of that pesky Constitution, I can't fire the guy -- and yes, there's some irony in the fact that Cheney's job is protected by a document for which he has such evident disregard. So I'd take some steps to neutralize him. Which wouldn't really be that hard. First, I'd take away most of the funding for his office, staff, and cartoon-sized document safes. Second, I'd fire David Addington and any other Cheney hardliners. (What do you mean, "Can I do that?" I'm the freaking President.) Third, I'd make it clear that the Veep's job description now had two parts: (a) the Constitutinonal, which is to sit on his fat rump and wait for me to die; and (b) traditional, which is to attend funerals for foreign dignitaries. And that's all. (Okay, that's harsh. Maybe an occasional ribbon-cutting ceremony on a new stretch of interstate.)

I would take for granted, however, that even stripped of his staff, budget and official duties, Cheney would continue to undermine my authority and weaken America's long-term interests. And at the first sign that he was doing so, I would go to Plan B.

See, the President can't fire the Vice-President, but somebody else can. So I would quietly make it known on Capitol Hill, through low-level intermediaries at first, that the White House would offer no significant objection to impeachment proceedings. I'd start by talking to the moderate Republicans who were once supposed to be my core constituency, and have felt abandoned as my administration has swung rightward. They could parley with the Dems, while I sent some higher-level messengers to build enthusiasm on the right. It would take a while to build momentum, but not -- in a Democratic Congress -- all that long.

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