The recent news about Cheney’s latest medical scare makes my theory about McCain’s sudden over-the-top support of Bush in 2004 particularly relevant. For years, I’ve wondered what they possibly could have promised McCain to shut him up and bring him back under “control” in 2004.
When one considers how McCain was treated by the Bush folks in 2000 (especially in South Carolina, where the tactics were, in my eyes, unforgivable), and the serious trouble a split ticket with Kerry would have caused for Bush in 2004, it’s easy to ask oneself why McCain could be found hugging and kissing Bush at his ’04 campaign rallies just a few weeks after the idea of a McCain / Kerry ticket was floated and met by McCain / Kerry non-denials.
My hunch is that McCain was offered the Vice Presidency in the event of Cheney’s “retirement”. It’s the only thing that could have been dangled in front of McCain to bring him back under the tent. It wasn’t Defense Secretary – I really don’t think that would have been sufficient.
It’s also the only thing that would, at this point, bring the White House within reach for John McCain. Were Cheney to retire, and McCain appointed VP by the President, he would be overwhelmingly approved by both Houses of Congress. He would have an incredible platform from which to run for President in 2008. He would be much closer to the nomination, and it would deliver a rough political nut-kick to the Giuliani and Romney campaigns.
It would be the ultimate cash-in of the chips McCain is holding from 2000 and 2004. While it would still be an uphill fight for him, it would nonetheless restore his status as a serious contender, a status which I think has long faded.
Or maybe I’m just nuts.