Is Cheney all alone out there?
Back in April, Bob Schieffer referenced Cheney’s alleged “isolation” in an interview with the vice president on Face the Nation.
SCHIEFFER: Senator Reid, who you mentioned earlier, the Democratic leader, said that he thought that President Bush had become more isolated over Iraq than Richard Nixon was during Watergate. You were around during those days.
Vice Pres. CHENEY: I was.
SCHIEFFER: Do you think that’s true?
Vice Pres. CHENEY: I do not. I think that’s a ridiculous notion.
SCHIEFFER: It’s a ridiculous notion?
Vice Pres. CHENEY: Yes.
SCHIEFFER: Do you feel you have become more isolated?
Vice Pres. CHENEY: I don’t think so. I spend as much time as I can, get out and–and do other things, be it home in Wyoming or, yesterday, I managed to go shopping with my daughter for birthday presents for granddaughters. But I, you know, I obviously spend most of my time on the job.
Of course, Schieffer did not follow up to press Cheney on whether he felt politically isolated.
In a January 2007 Newsweek interview, however, Cheney did allude to the distance between himself and the “Baker/Scowcroft” wing of the Republican foreign policy establishment:
Richard Wolffe: [There has been] criticism from Scowcroft about not knowing you anymore—people have got quite personal, people you worked with before. You wouldn’t be human if it didn’t have some reaction.
CHENEY: Well, I’m vice president and they’re not.
The real question is whether Cheney has any allies within the larger foreign policy establishment.
One has to go all the way back to the start of the campaign to elect George W. Bush to recall that there was once another major figure from the foreign policy establishment behind the throne of George W. Bush: George P. Shultz.
When the Bush “campaign” unveiled its foreign policy team to the public in February 1999, Cheney was considered a key adviser. The other major player was George Shultz.
Mr. Bush… consults with two unofficial senior advisers, Richard B. Cheney, President Bush’s secretary of defense, and George P. Shultz, Mr. Reagan’s secretary of state.
Jim Lobe has suggested that Shultz is “an eminence grise of the Bush administration” and the Wall Street Journal named Shultz as the “Father of the Bush doctrine.” And yet, he never joined the administration and he has avoided much of the scrutiny and criticism associated with Bush foreign policy.
As honorary co-chair of the neoconservative Committee on the Present Danger, Shultz has supported the most hawkish administration positions on the framing of the “war on terror” and Iraq, providing justifications for the war before and after the invasion.
The most urgent question, going forward, is how Shultz positions himself on Iran.
Shultz hasn’t said much publicly about Iran.
Looking at Hoover Institution chatter about Iran, one finds something less than a full-throated endorsement of military intervention.
Indeed, one finds support for containment, diplomacy, and “a principled long-term quest for
peaceful regime change.”
Does this less-than-fully hawkish outlook on Iran shed some light on forces guiding the current course of US policy?
If Cheney is as hawkish on Iran as he is rumored to be, then he may be feeling more isolated than ever.