Cheney choice good for conservatives, bad for Democrats

The selection of Dick Cheney as Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush’s running mate is good news for conservatives.

Cheney will unite all elements of the Reagan Coalition that won in 1980, 1984 and 1988 and came together again in 1994 to give the GOP control of Congress—a coalition including the Old Right, the New Right, the neoconservatives, the national defense conservatives, social issues conservatives and economic conservatives.

Conservatives believe they dodged a political bullet when a liberal Republican, such as Gov. Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania or Gov. George Pataki of New York, was not put on the ticket. Not since 1984 have conservatives been as united, energized and committed to the election of the Republican ticket.

When George Bush (the father) was president, he locked conservatives out of his administration, with a few notable exceptions. And he moved strongly toward the left, increasing government spending and regulation and raising taxes despite the “Read my lips” promise that had won him the 1988 election.

By 1990, conservatives realized they had almost no role to play in the Bush administration, and that if he were elected to a second term, they would have even less of a role in the following four years.

Bob Dole sent basically the same signals in 1996. He went so far as to say he had not read the Republican platform and had nom intention of doing so — a strong suggestion that he would not govern as a conservative.

In every election since 1948, Republicans have lost when the Republican presidential candidate didn’t run as a conservative or selected a liberal/establishment type to be his running mate. Here’s the record: 1948: Establishment Republican Tom Dewey selects liberal California Gov. Earl Warren. Dewey loses.


1960: Richard Nixon selects liberal former Sen.

Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts and cuts a deal with Nelson Rockefeller that infuriates conservatives. Nixon loses.


1974-76: Jerry Ford selects liberal New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller as his vice president (though he later dumps him in the face of Ronald Reagan’s challenge for the GOP nomination).

Against Democrat Jimmy Carter, he runs to Carter’s left on issues ranging from federal budgeting to the conduct of the Cold War. Ford loses.


1992: George Bush abandons the Reagan agenda and moves left. Bush loses.


1996: Bob Dole, an establishment Republican, makes it clear he is uncomfortable with the conservative agenda. Dole loses.

Conversely, since 1948 the Democrats have lost all presidential elections except one (1964) that were seen by the voters as a clear choice between the left and the right.

The addition of Dick Cheney to the GOP presidential ticket greatly increases the chance that this election will be fought along philosophical lines. That’s bad news for Democrats.

Cheney is the mainstream of the Republican Party on all important issues. On the abortion issue, he is pro-life. He supports Americans’ Second Amendment right to protect themselves and their homes, families and businesses. He supports tax relief. He wants to build a system to protect this country from missile attack. He wants parents and school boards, not Washington, to run local schools. He wants individuals, families and local and state governments to have more power, and he wants bureaucrats and politicians and special interests to have less.

He also has a not-so-secret weapon. His wife, Lynne, is a former chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Humanities and a leader in the fight for education reform. As co-host of CNN’s debate program “Crossfire Sunday” for three years, she ably represented his conservative position on a wide range of issues. No doubt she will reinforce his conservative instincts, which is why the left—uncomfortable with strong, independent-minded women—has already begun to attack her.

Conservatives are thrilled that Bush, a centrist, establishment Republican, has selected a solid conservative to balance the ticket.

It is said that a matronly white woman once came up to Charlie Pride, the famous country-western singer who was African-American, and asked, “How come you look like them and sound like us?” Dick Cheney looks like “them” (establishment Republicans) but he sounds like (and is) one of “us” — a principled conservative.

Like Pride, who once said, “I am an American singing American music,” Cheney transcends superficial labels. His presence on the ticket will ensure that Republicans are united this fall against Al Gore and his limousine liberal friends.

Richard A. Viguerle is president of He can be reached at


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