Bush's First 100 Days: Linda Chavez interview

It's going to be interesting to see whether or not that strong belief on his part is going to be enough to convince skeptics on the Hill. Obviously, he's got a selling message to do, but I don't see him veering, and it does remind me a lot of President Reagan when he offered his tax cut proposals in the early 1980s. This was something he believed in. These tax cuts are something that George W. Bush believes in.

Vice President

We also saw, in the very earliest days, the emergence of Vice President Cheney's role, perhaps unique. Vice President Gore certainly had a wide and deep portfolio, but many people are pointing to Cheney having almost a chief operating officer kind of model or prime minister sort of role. Do you agree, disagree?

Well, again, maybe because I saw it a little bit closer at hand, given my short tenure as the Labor secretary designate, I actually did not see Cheney as involved in the process, at least in my own nomination, as press stories would have led me to believe he was involved in all of those decisions. I really saw Bush in charge, and Cheney really a very minor player. Now that doesn't mean that he wasn't major player in the foreign policy decisions, defense issues. I'm sure he was, as he should be. He has expertise in that.

But I think it really underestimates President Bush's role to suggest that Dick Cheney is calling the shots. I don't think that's the case, and I think there's been a little bit too much of that sense.

You talked about in your personal experience —

Yeah, in my personal experience, Bush is very much in charge, at least on the domestic issues, when it's an issue that he knows and cares about. And Dick Cheney obviously is going to have a major role to play in all of the foreign policy and defense issues. That's, in part, why he's on the ticket. I mean, he offers that kind of balance.

But the idea that Dick Cheney is calling all the shots I think is just inaccurate. It certainly was not my personal experience in my short tenure as a, as a nominee for a Cabinet position. Bush clearly made the decision. He was the person in all of the interviews who asked the tough questions, and they were substantive questions. These were not — this wasn't just a "getting to know you" kind of session. This was a policy session.

And while Vice President Cheney was in the room, he was not a major player in, in that particular discussion.

Conventional wisdom also seems to be shifting on the idea that President Bush was inheriting a really weakened White House and that, you know, following the breach of Florida, and that there was such a sense of doom and gloom that Washington was going to be ungovernable and all of that. Do you believe that was the case, and do you believe that he, that President Bush may have benefitted from having those expectations lowered so much?

Well, there clearly were lowered expectations with this president coming in, into office, and he has, conventional wisdom is that he's benefitted over his entire career from, from lowered expectations.

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