Peggy Noonan was a special assistant to President Ronald Reagan from 1984 to 1986. In 1988 she was chief speechwriter for George H.W. Bush when he ran for the presidency. She writes a column for the Wall Street Journal. She thinks Dubya looks just dreamy in a flight suit. She elicits such a visceral amount of hate from my wife that I have, for years, been forced to turn the channel anytime she appears on television. She also thinks its time for Dick Cheney to go.

Right now in the White House they’re discussing how to help the vice president get through his problem. They’ve already tried the wearing of orange ties, an attempt to take the sting out of the incident by showing they don’t feel the sting. Duck! Ha ha!

But what are they thinking that they’re not saying? Here’s a hunch, based not on any inside knowledge but only on what I know of people who practice politics, and those who practice it within the Bush White House.

I suspect what they’re thinking and not saying is, If Dick Cheney weren’t vice president, who’d be a good vice president? They’re thinking, At some time down the road we may wind up thinking about a new plan. And one night over drinks at a barbecue in McLean one top guy will turn to another top guy and say, “Under the never permeable and never porous Dome of Silence, tell me . . . wouldn’t you like to replace Cheney?”

I don’t think Ms. Noonan is freelancing here. This column, appearing in today’s Wall Street Journal, is a major shot across the gunman’s bow.

And Noonan dutifully lays out the reasoning for sending ‘Big Time’ out to pasture.

It’s not the shooting incident itself, it’s that Dick Cheney has been the administration’s hate magnet for five years now. Halliburton, energy meetings, Libby, Plamegate. This was not all bad for the White House: Mr. Cheney took the heat that would otherwise have been turned solely on George Bush. So he had utility, and he’s experienced and talented and organized, and Mr. Bush admires and respects him. But, at a certain point a hate magnet can draw so much hate you don’t want to hold it in your hand anymore, you want to drop it, and pick up something else. Is this fair? Nah. But fair has nothing to do with it.

Fair has nothing to do with it. That is almost the credo of the Bush administration. And how might they convince Swinging Dick that his time as Emperor has come to an end?

The key thing is Iraq. George Bush cares deeply about Iraq and knows his legacy will be decided there. It has surely dawned on the White House that “Iraq” will not be “over” in the next two years. Iraq is a long story. What Dick Armitage or Colin Powell said about the Pottery Barn rule was true: If you break, it you own it, at the very least for the next few years.

George Bush, and so the men and women around him, will want the next Republican presidential nominee to continue the U.S. effort in, and commitment to, Iraq. To be a candidate who will continue his policy, and not pull the plug, and burrow through…

…It would have to be a decision made by Dick Cheney. If he didn’t want to do it he wouldn’t have to. If he were pressed–Dick, we gotta put the next guy in here or we’re going to lose in ’08 and see all our efforts undone–he might make the decision himself. He’d have to step down on his own.

Many people have suggested that we are wasting our time in dwelling on the shooting accident. We’re not. The right wing is panicking. They want to use this opportunity to remove Dick Cheney and put in a replacement that will have a leg-up on the 2008 nomination. They figure that two years as Vice-President will confer a gravitas on their man that no contender outside of McCain currently enjoys.

The problem with their reasoning is that Dick Cheney is George Bush’s safety net. So long as Dick Cheney is Vice-President, there is no point in impeaching Bush unless Cheney is part of the package.

Nevertheless, there is probably no single thing we could do to benefit the country that would be more productive than to help push out Dick Cheney. He is a bad influence on the President. Even the father thinks Cheney has ruined his son’s presidency.

So, I’m with Peggy. Send Cheney packing and put someone else in his place that won’t fuck everything up.

It won’t be easy to settle on a replacement. Peggy notes:

This new vice president would, however, have to be very popular in the party, or the party wouldn’t buy it. Replacing Mr. Cheney would be chancy. The new veep would have to get through the Senate, which has at this point at least three likely contenders for the nomination, at least two of whom who would not, presumably, be amused.

So, who is your pick? George Allen, Sam Brownback, John McCain, or Chuck Hagel? I can’t see Bush settling on anyone but the affable and pliant George Allen. Time will tell.

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