A weblog by Will Fitzgerald

A heartbeat away

Gwen Ifill asked Edwards, “What qualifies you to be a heartbeat away?” Cheney’s follow-up was interesting:

FILL: Mr. Vice President, you have 90 seconds.

CHENEY: You want me to answer a question about his qualifications?

IFILL: That was the question.

CHENEY: I see.

Well, I think the important thing in picking a vice president probably varies from president to president. Different presidents approach it in different ways.

When George Bush asked me to sign on, it obviously wasn’t because he was worried about carrying Wyoming. We got 70 percent of the vote in Wyoming, although those three electoral votes turned out to be pretty important last time around.

What he said he wanted me to do was to sign on because of my experience to be a member of the team, to help him govern, and that’s exactly the way he’s used me.

And I think from the perspective of the nation, it’s worked in our relationship, in this administration. I think it’s worked in part because I made it clear that I don’t have any further political aspirations myself. And I think that’s been an advantage.

In other words, Edwards’ main qualifications are his ability to pick up some votes, and his main focus will be on running for president (in 2008, said Cheney–not 2012!). I suspect the polls will show that Cheney ”won the debate.” If so, exchanges like this will be the reason. Say what you want about Cheney (and there’s plenty to say), there’s no denying his experience and his competence in getting things done. The wrong things, of course, but effectively done nonetheless. Edwards’ response to this question (“The American people want in the president and in their vice president basically three things … we know from this administration that a long resume does not equal good judgement.”) seemed cliched, clearly scripted, and just a tad desparate.


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