When Fox News asked Dick Cheney a few weeks ago whether he'd consider running for president in 2008, Cheney said the answer was "not only no, but hell no." "I've got my plans laid out," Cheney said. "I'm going to serve this president for the next four years, and then I'm out of here."
That may be Cheney's plan, but it isn't the Weekly Standard's. Writing in this week's issue, Weekly Standard Executive Editor Fred Barnes says "there's every reason Cheney should change his mind" about running in 2008. He'll be younger then than Ronald Reagan was when he first took office, his heart problems haven't created any serious health issues lately, and he's an "experienced candidate at the national level and an effective debater with a wry sense of humor," Barnes says.
But most of all, Barnes says, Cheney should run in 2008 because that election, like the one just past, is likely to turn on issues of foreign policy and national security. "The war on terror, national security, and the struggle for democracy will probably dominate American politics for a decade or more," Barnes writes. "Bush's legacy, or at least part of it, will be to have returned these issues to a position of paramount concern for future presidents. And who is best qualified to pursue that agenda as knowledgeably and aggressively as Bush? The answer is the person who helped Bush formulate it, namely Cheney."
Condoleezza Rice is suddenly feeling the love as a possible presidential candidate in 2008 -- folks are just fascinated by the idea of a Rice-Clinton matchup -- and Barnes says the secretary of state would be a strong contender. As for the rest of the Republican field? Not in the same league, Barnes says. John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Bill Frist and the like "don't come close to Cheney in foreign policy know-how or decision-making experience." The question, Barnes says, is "who would generate the most confidence as commander in chief?" The answer: "Cheney, for sure."