Sorry about yesterday. Make back-ups! Make back-ups! Make back-ups! Happily, all I actually lost was 28 hours, but no data. And all that caused it was a brief power outage.

Tomorrow, “Reversion to the Mean Coin Flippers.” But today, a first look at Dick Cheney.

My own advice, as some of you know, was that the Republicans should go with a proven strategy: Bush / Quayle. Instead, Bush reached out to Dick Cheney.

Cheney is, by all accounts, a nice guy. But here are some things that struck me about his record – and that may portend the kind of Supreme Court nominees that Bush will send over to Trent Lott for confirmation if he wins. I apologize if you’ve already read the essence of this six times – I’m sure versions of it will make their way around:

In 1983, Cheney voted against the Equal Rights Amendment – the one that banned discrimination against women. This isn’t to say he doesn’t believe women should be treated fairly, just that he voted against that landmark legislation.

In 1985 (and on eight other separate occasions), he voted against economic sanctions on South Africa. This is certainly not to suggest he favored Apartheid – surely he did not – but the net effect of his votes was to make him one of the Apartheid government’s best allies in Congress.

In 1986, he voted against a resolution expressing the sense of the House that President Reagan should urge the South African government to, among other things, grant immediate and unconditional release to Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners. This is not to say he favored keeping Mandela in prison – obviously not. But many others did favor the resolution.

In 1988 he was one of 13 only House members to vote against the AIDS Federal Policy Act, which was the first major bill to provide funding for HIV/AIDS counseling and testing. Cheney also supported an effort to reduce funding for HIV/AIDS research.

Also in 1988, he was one of only 29 House members to oppose collecting statistics on hate crimes, let alone try to do anything about them. The conservative position is that all crime is hateful, regardless of motive, and that while distinctions should be made based on intent – first degree murder, second degree murder, manslaughter, and so on – dragging a randomly selected black man on a chain behind a pickup truck until he is dismembered, just because he was black (or for blacks to do the same to a white guy, just because he was white), does not fall into a category of crimes that threaten our diverse society more than others.

So he’s a nice guy – and I mean that without sarcasm – but his conservatism could seriously erode Pat Buchanan’s base.

Friday: Silver


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