If Bush dumped Cheney, would anyone want the job?

Amid speculation about the vice president's future, the president's approval rating hits an all-time low.

Published February 28, 2006 2:04PM (EST)

"Senior GOP sources" expect Dick Cheney to step down as vice president after the 2006 congressional elections. Or so says Insight, the conservative Internet newsmagazine published by Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church.

We're never sure how much stock to put in Insight's reports, especially ones that rely, like this one does, on anonymous sources. So while the Insight prediction follows the story line set out a couple of weeks ago by Bush I speechwriter Peggy Noonan -- Cheney, persuaded that he's a liability to the president and to the stay-the-course strategy in Iraq, chooses to step aside to give a leg up to some other Republican with White House aspirations in 2008 -- maybe it's best to take the report with the proverbial grain of salt.

And then there's this question to ponder: Would any Republican who's thinking about 2008 really want to be affiliated more closely with George W. Bush just now? A new CBS poll puts Bush's approval rating at 34 percent, the lowest of his presidency. Fifty-one percent of Americans say that Bush doesn't care about people like them; just 30 percent say they approve of the way he's handling the war in Iraq; only 43 percent approve of his handling of terrorism, his supposed strong suit; and 70 percent -- including a solid majority of Republicans -- oppose the plan to turn over control of six U.S. ports to Dubai Ports World.

It could be worse: Richard Nixon's overall approval rating hit 24 percent the month before he resigned; Jimmy Carter dropped to 26 percent the month he delivered his "malaise" speech; the president's father fell to 34 percent a few months before Bill Clinton sent him packing in 1992; and Clinton bottomed out at 36 percent two months before the Republicans took control of Congress in 1994.

While Bush may not be comforted much by such comparisons, he can take some solace in this: His 34 percent is a whole lot better than the 18 percent approval rating Americans now give Cheney.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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