The importance of the veep, then and now

Published July 6, 2004 8:52PM (EDT)

Bob Novak, Ed Gillespie and the cadre of conservative talking heads on cable might be right today as they insist that vice presidential candidates rarely tip the ticket to their running mates. Or they might be doing a little damage control for the Bush team, because as long as the cameras aren't rolling, the president's campaign managers don't seem to be happy about John Edwards on the Democratic ticket. From the Associated Press today: "Privately, Bush advisers acknowledged that Edwards has the capacity to be a formidable foe, helping Kerry to broaden the electoral map and sharpen his economic message."

Of course, Bush and his supporters didn't think the vice presidential slot was so insignificant four years ago, either. From the July 28, 2000 issue of the Toronto Star: "In introducing Cheney to the nation, Bush said he will be a valuable partner in helping achieve the 'great goals' Bush has set. As is always the case, the presidential candidate predicted a larger role for his vice-president than will eventually materialize. In his brief remarks, Cheney took a light jab at the Clinton-Gore administration by calling for 'a restoration of civility and respect in the nation.'"

Well, at least in the latter goal, the vice president has certainly distinguished himself. Four more years of Cheney as V.P. means four more years of his version of civility and respect.

By Stephen W. Stromberg

Stephen W. Stromberg is a former editorial fellow at Salon.

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