Global Politics

The foreign policy role of the vice president

Is Dick Cheney's nickname of �Darth Vader� really fair? This analyst says Dick Cheney has always fostered the image of him as hard-edged, a tough guy who doesn't play nice with the media and his political foes. He says Cheney came into the White House as the dominant player in foreign policy, and after September 11th defined the direction of the administration for much of the remainder of the first term. There are precedents for modern vice presidents to play an active role in foreign affairs. Eisenhower groomed his vice president, Richard Nixon, on foreign policy after he started experiencing health problems. This analyst says vice presidents before Nixon were generally considered inconsequential especially in foreign policy matters, but several since then have been given big responsibilities in foreign policy. Walter Mondale, George H.W. Bush, and Al Gore stand out as examples. This analyst says Nixon set under enduring precedent as Eisenhower's VP, playing the role of the fierce partisan. Republicans have tried to pain Democrats as weak on national security ever since. We don't know whether Obama and McCain are choosing their VPs based on their foreign policy credentials or their ability to win over voters in a few swing states. If that's what's going on it's a real problem says this political scientist. So what is Dick Cheney's legacy for the next VP? This author says it's important to keep in mind who's really been in charge over the last eight years, and mentions that Bush took a lot of authority back from Cheney in the second term, and that Cheney's vice presidency will be a cautionary tale. He says that's because Cheney's reputation as a Darth Vader personality has hurt Bush's legacy, and made Bush seem weak in comparison, which no Commander in Chief wants.

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