Trash Talkin’ Cheney

Cheney Seeks Allies’ Support for Iraq War as His Luster Fades
By Holly Rosenkrantz and Brendan Murray

Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) — Vice President Dick Cheney is finding it harder and harder to locate a welcome mat.

Cheney arrives today in Australia to meet with Prime Minister John Howard, a U.S. ally in the Iraq war who has resisted calls to withdraw his country’s 1,600 troops. The visit comes two days after the vice president’s meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, when he was greeted by shouts of “Yankee go home” from a loudspeaker outside the U.S. embassy and a controversy over Japan’s defense minister terming the war a “mistake.”

Even today, Cheney will have to tread carefully: A Feb. 16- 18 poll in the Australian, a national newspaper, showed that 68 percent oppose the war. “The vice president won’t be walking the streets of Australia, so he won’t have to be worried about being subjected to verbal abuse on this stop,” said Stephen Yates, who served as his national security adviser until 2005.

Cheney, 66, is also coping with growing criticism at home, where adversaries say he demonstrates a combativeness that may reflect frustration with his diminished role in an administration reeling from Iraq and trying to come to terms with a Democratic Congress.

“He’s not dominating administration policy and he’s taking some shots, even from fellow Republicans,” said Joel Goldstein, a vice presidential scholar at St. Louis University in Missouri. Cheney’s “operating style is not conducive to creating a reservoir of good feeling,” Goldstein said.

Pugnacity on Display

His pugnacity has been displayed in the divisive debate over Iraq. In recent weeks, he has feuded publicly with two prominent Republicans — Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel and Arizona’s John McCain, a leading contender for the party presidential nomination.

Last month, Cheney told Newsweek magazine that he’s having a hard time restraining himself from assailing Hagel over the Nebraskan’s opposition to a Bush-Cheney plan to send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq.

On Wednesday, Cheney told ABC News that McCain, who has been one of Bush’s strongest war supporters, “said some nasty things about me the other day, and then next time he saw me, ran over to me and apologized.” Noting McCain’s past criticism of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Cheney added: “Maybe he’ll apologize to Rumsfeld.”

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