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TOP OF THE TICKET

For the left, Cheney may be the new Nixon

July 08, 2007|DON FREDERICK AND ANDREW MALCOLM

Is Dick Cheney poised to become, for this generation's liberals, the bogeyman that Richard Nixon became for the last generation's lefties?

The question crops up in the wake of a new book by James Reston Jr., "The Conviction of Richard Nixon," a memoir of the famous David Frost interviews with Nixon 30 years ago; and a new video posted by director Robert Greenwald on the Impeach Cheney website.

Nixon's decisions in prosecuting the Vietnam War, disdain for the "flower children" and antiwar movement, and his role in the Watergate coverup provided plenty of fodder for the left to nurture its hatred.

Shift to the present: Cheney's role in lobbying for the invasion and occupation of Iraq is the subject of protracted analysis and speculation by the left (among others). George W. Bush sits in the Oval Office but, to many on the left, Cheney pulls the strings.

While the Impeach Cheney folks have as much chance of success as, say, Sam Brownback does of packing the moving van for 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., the movement -- 14 U.S. Representatives have signed on -- reflects deep bitterness on the left toward the vice president. And at this stage of the White House tenure, it's all about legacy.

Gephardt addendum

The official announcement that Dick Gephardt had decided to join Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential team also contained word that he gets a couple of titles: campaign co-chair and economic advisor.

The co-chair gig is honorific; the advisor's post -- even just on a surface level -- is worth contemplating.

Gephardt established his national profile in the late 1980s as the quintessential "old-school" Democrat on economic policy: strongly pro-labor, highly skeptical of big business, deeply concerned that the globalization of trade was hurting U.S. workers.

As a Democratic House leader, he led and lost fights against President Clinton's push for the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993, and against normalization of commercial relations with China in 2000.

Many of the White House aides and officials who browbeat fellow Democrats to get those measures passed signed up for Hillary Clinton's campaign ages ago. Now, presumably, Gephardt will be adding his voice to their discussions. We'd love to be a fly on the wall for those conversations.

Bartlett's quotations

Dan Bartlett, a George W. Bush loyalist who first hooked his star to the future president more than a decade ago in Texas, put in his last hours Tuesday as a White House aide. But before he cleared out his desk -- and in the best tradition of political insiders becoming less tight-lipped as he headed to the sidelines -- Bartlett provided some parting insights in this month's edition of GQ.

It's short but intriguing, especially as Bartlett reflects on the seemingly triumphant moment that the administration now doesn't much care for being reminded of: Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech on Iraq four years ago aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln as the ship headed toward San Diego.

The iconic scene "set the wrong tone for what became a protracted, difficult mission," Bartlett says.

And here's the payoff quote: "If there ever was a do-over, that would be it."

--

Excerpted from The Times' political blog Top of the Ticket, at www.latimes.com/ topoftheticket. Staff writer Scott Martelle contributed.

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