The forgotten man in the Bush administration is Vice President Cheney. He brought most of it on himself.
His standing is plunging with members of Congress as a whole, Democrats, some Republicans, and even zealots on the Christian right.
For the next two years, it appears he will be struggling to play any kind of significant role in Bush's lame-duck term. He has burned too many bridges to be really effective as a voice in Washington.
Consider these problems:
Cheney is the first vice president in recent history who is not gearing up to succeed his president and run on his own. Think of Gore, Bush 41, Mondale, Humphreythe list goes on. If Cheney reversed course, his candidacy would be laughable.
Cheney's influence in the public domain has hit rock bottom in the past few months. He was unable to save buddy Don Rumsfeld's job as secretary of defense. He raised money for GOP candidates in the fall, but many of them lost.
Cheney's lesbian daughter, Mary, is pregnant. That development is news only because Cheney's party is so outspoken against same-sex marriage or same-sex parents. In the 2000 campaign, the Bush-Cheney backers railed against same-sex marriage. No one doubts Cheney's sincere love for his daughter, but the Republican Party's hypocrisy here is unmistakable.
Cheney's voice on the war in Iraq lacks credibility. He has been wrong on virtually all his predictions when he rarely ventures out for interviews. His penchant for being secretive has been evident for six years as aides shield him except for favored folks in the media.
For reporters who covered the Ford administration, as I did, we are puzzled and even dismayed at the change in Cheney. As the top presidential aide to President Ford, he was a hardworking, helpful, and even cheerful individual. He was a big asset to a struggling, accidental president. With Cheney's help, Ford almost pulled an upset in his race with Jimmy Carter.
That man no longer exists.
Cheney was picked as Bush's running mate in 2000 only after Cheney, who directed the selection process, didn't produce a name to the Texas governor's liking. The suspicion was that Bush's father was instrumental in finally going to Cheney.
A number of fellow GOP governors had come in fawning tribute to Bush in Austin, probably figuring they might land on the ticket. But Cheney got the nod, and most were delighted with the choice.
Cheney's downward slide has continued steadily since then.