I know the answer to that question may seem obvious to some lefties, but now I think even conservatives are catching on.
I notice that the cover story of the US News and World Report last week was entitled: Cheney: The Man Behind the Curtain. The reference is clear enough, and then the text of the article, citing White House sources, describes how Bush defers to Cheney in matters of policy. Indeed, Bush was made to seem like an awkwardly silent teenager in Cheney’s presence.
(US News is a conservative-leaning news weekly.)
Then on Meet the Press yesterday, Republican Senator Dick Lugar showed up (along with Democrat Joe Biden), and urged Bush to take charge of his White House, citing the mixed signals being sent by his VP and his cabinet officers (notably Rice and Powell) as to official policy in Iraq. (With Powell sending an internationalist message, and Cheney sending a “screw-Europe” message.)
Is Bush simply a figurehead, unable to take charge of his cabinet? Is Cheney the de facto President?
If so, does this situation give lie to the idea that it’s OK to have a figurehead President, as long as he has a strong cabinet? What happens when different members of the cabinet have different ideas? Is a figurehead President going to be strong enough to call the shots?
On the other hand, if you contend that Bush is not a mere figurehead, is there any evidence (including anecdotal evidence) that would support your view? An instance where Bush challenged Cheney, or even broke a tie in a cabinet meeting?
I do not wish this to turn into another “Is Bush stupid?” thread. For the record, he is clearly not stupid. He scored over 1200 on his SATs if I recall correctly, and stupid people don’t do that. He is above average - maybe not by a whole lot, but still reasonably bright.
(Bush does strike me as an intellectually incurious fellow though- perhaps one who never had any interest in world affairs before taking office? And perhaps that is the reason he is deferential?)
Thoughts on the matter, anyone?