A House Divided

One thing I've heard over the years is that George W. Bush and his top aides liked the idea of Dick Cheney being Vice President in part because Cheney lacks presidential ambitions. That way, everyone on the team would be working toward one goal: The greater glory of George Bush.

Realistically, I think this is going to prove to be a serious mistake. It's unprecedented in the modern era for a term-limited president not to have a designated successor. Such a successor lends coherence and continuity to the administration as a whole, understood as a complicated organism involving hundreds (if not thousands) of people at all kinds of levels. Without a successor, that organism is going to start fracturing, as people realize that the ticket to future jobs is no longer to continue toiling away for Bush, but rather to join a GOP presidential campaign. But those campaigns are going to be busy attacking each other and needing to differentiate themselves from each other -- nobody's going to be cooperating with the White House. Mike Allen's Time story on the disbanding of the Bush/Cheney '04 rapid response teams gets at some of this emerging dynamic.