Good Cop, Bad Cop .. Will It Work in '04?
From Cheney playing 'Dr. Doom' to president's Dr. Feelgood
When President Bush was telling the nation on Wednesday of his dreams for voyages to Mars and beyond, Vice President Dick Cheney brought a well-heeled crowd here painfully back to earth, telling them terrorists might well kill hundreds of thousands of Americans in the near future.Probably?
It was a jarring, but probably calculated contrast.
The president and his often dour running mate are known for their sharply differing personalities; with his paper-dry wit and droning delivery, Cheney has occasionally been called Dr. Doom.So, the unelectable one thinks he'll be able to leave Iraq and his military record behind him in this election?
But the juxtaposition of the two speeches this week -- one a visionary flight intended to inspire, the other a jeremiad laced with a sense of menace -- also seemed to reflect an unofficial launch of the president's re-election strategy.
Bush appears to be working hard to take the high road, speaking of dreams and triumphs and values, saying that the world is now a safer place. White House officials have hinted over the past week that the president's State of the Union address, scheduled for Tuesday, will focus on a positive agenda for the future, with the emphasis on initiatives like an effort to promote traditional marriages.
But the Republican Party's traditional strength, at least since the Vietnam War, has been defense and national security. Cheney appears likely to have inherited the job of emphasizing that point in the campaign, while stressing how great the need is for a muscular military posture to confront an unrelenting enemy bent on America's destruction.