Rumsfeld & Cheney: The Untouchables

Posted by Cutler on September 30, 2006

As I noted in a previous post, Bob Woodward’s new book, State of Denial, reports that former White House chief of staff Andy Card tried–twice–to oust Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Why did Card fail?

At one level, the answer seems simple enough: Rumsfeld retains the support of Vice President Dick Cheney.

Let us speculate wildly for a moment.

Imagine a scenario where Bush advisors move to dump Rumsfeld. Cheney threatens, “You touch Rumsfeld (my mentor, the man who gave me my start in life during the Nixon and Ford administrations) and you lose my cooperation.”

Now imagine that Bush advisors respond by saying to Cheney, “Nobody threatens the President. You are fired.”

End of story, right?

I have a civics question: Can the President of the United States fire the Vice President?

My uneducated sense of the Constitution: No.

The Vice President is elected. The Vice President does not serve at the pleasure of the President.

The best Bush could do is alienate the VP, not remove him.
Does anyone–including Bush advisors–think the President could survive a direct confrontation with a rebellious Vice President sniping at him?

Bush moved toward a confrontation with Rumsfeld in May of ’04 during the height of the Abu Ghraib revelations.

That lasted about two or three days. Then Cheney issued a statement calling Rumsfeld the best Secretary of Defense that the US has had. And that was that.

The last chance Bush advisors had to dump Rumsfeld and Cheney was in ’04 when they could have dropped him from the ’04 ticket. Didn’t happen.

End of story.

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