WI: George W. Bush dies in February 2001

President Cheney and Vice President Thurmond, I think
Actually the next in the line of succession is the speaker of the house, and at the time that was Dennis Hastert, who in the last decade was found to have been a horrible child molester. Just imagine if word of that got out. I'm guessing a Democrat wins in 2004 just based on how unlikeable Cheney would be and if Hastert is kept on the ticket, you know someone will come forward with the allegations. We probably see John Kerry as president, and if things are bad enough, John McCain or maybe Chuck Hagel mounts a primary challenge against Cheney, though if Hastert's allegations are revealed and he's dropped from the ticket, Cheney tries to unify the party and either chooses his challenger or someone who people think can not only unify the party but appeal across the aisle and that aint happening.
 
Cheney becomes leader during 09/11 - he might just get re-elected if he handles it well enough. Granted his heart becomes a major issue but then maybe the NIH geta a research funding boost on that premise.
 
Actually the next in the line of succession is the speaker of the house, and at the time that was Dennis Hastert, who in the last decade was found to have been a horrible child molester. Just imagine if word of that got out. I'm guessing a Democrat wins in 2004 just based on how unlikeable Cheney would be and if Hastert is kept on the ticket, you know someone will come forward with the allegations. We probably see John Kerry as president, and if things are bad enough, John McCain or maybe Chuck Hagel mounts a primary challenge against Cheney, though if Hastert's allegations are revealed and he's dropped from the ticket, Cheney tries to unify the party and either chooses his challenger or someone who people think can not only unify the party but appeal across the aisle and that aint happening.
Cheney performed pretty well in the VP debates so I wouldn't say his political instincts were completely moribund. He simply stopped caring about political appearances pretty early on when his heart issues made it obvious that he wasn't going to be a Presidential candidate. Now, its possible he steps down from office in this timeline. Being President is likely to kill him, and do so quickly. It evidently ages people like 20 years judging by Obama and Bush's appearances.

There is also no guarantee Hastert wouldn't also step down. He never showed any interest in executive office. Thurmond at this point was 98 years old, so I'm not sure he wouldn't also step down (evidently his constituents were happy enough with his performance, according to polls, but a national office is different than being a Senator benefitting from seniority).

What may happen rather is that Cheney and Hastert serve one term and do not run in 2004.
 
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Being President is likely to kill him, and do so quickly. It evidently ages people like 20 years judging by Obama and Bush's appearances.
Maybe it gets Dr. Dean in the White House in '04. Woken up in the middle of the night regularly for key decisions that later might not have needed the call in retrospect? Life or death decisions sometimes with incomplete information? Lots of facilitators but most or all of them need your signature? Can't spell 'Presidency' without 'residency'.
 
I don't agree that Cheney is going to pick Hastert as VP and Hastert does not automatically assume the vice presidency.

I also think Cheney would pursue the presidency as an incumbent (ie, run in 2004 even though he wouldn't have run if he weren't already president). It's worth noting that Cheney is still alive today and served as vice president during an intense administration. I would suggest that early detection and medical care made available because of his position likely aided that. Certainly possible that the presidency wipes him out at some point, but I think it's quite plausible he survives all of the remaining first term and most if not all of the second.
 
Cheney become POTUS

Picks Jeb Bush as VP

Steps down in 2004 and Jeb loses narrowly to Kerry

Kerry has no more luck with Katrina or financial collapse so Jeb comes back in 2008

Or could apply for Marco Rubio
 
Yes, but that only matters if Cheney dies. Cheney gets to nominate his own VP.
Thank you for pointing this out. Dennis Hastert would not automatically become Vice-President, as that is not how the line of succession works in the U.S. Richard Cheney would be sworn in as President for what was left of Bush's term, and his prior office would be vacant, though he would be expected to nominate somebody. McCain or Gingrich are both likely IMHO.

While basically competent, Cheney was not popular, to say the least, though he may be able to ride on the "Wartime Presidency" mindset to win again in '04. If not, he loses out to Kerry, who looks like a good choice until the financial collapse and Hurricane Katrina both smack into America like runaway trains.

President Kerry faces a primary challenge from young upstart Senator Obama of Illinois, which destabilizes the party. There is talk of replacing Vice-President Edwards with Obama in the upcoming election, but this is rejected. He loses in the '08 election to a ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin.
 
It is an interesting question of what actually would change from the first GWB administration when many believe Cheney was at the height of his influence and was assumed to be the brains of the operation. At this point all of Bush's cabinet is in place and not likely to go anywhere, so policy-wise there is not much that will run differently. There will be tax cuts and maybe some kind of education reform. Cheney might get a bounce, but I'm not sure what kind of major successes that will translate to.

As far as the man's appeal goes, it's difficult to fathom what a different time 2001 was from where we are today. Read this analysis of GWB's first 100 days in office and seriously contemplate whether there would be any difference in tone if it was the managerial, bureaucratic-minded Cheney instead. I seriously doubt there would be a different reaction to President Cheney whose low-key persona would be a good match for what the public was looking for at the time.

After 9/11, though, I don't know that Cheney is going to have what it takes to be the national figure that Bush was. (I can't imagine him on the pile of rubble there in NYC, for instance.) His instincts might be the same in terms of policy, but as a politician, the taciturn Cheney isn't going inspire the rally-round-the-flag effect that the country really needed at that moment. He'll be the steady hand saying "We're in control, we'll find who did this and bring them to justice," but that only goes so far for a country looking for leadership - so in that respect his most appealing attribute pre-9/11 would almost certainly be a liability thereafter.

It's possible that he would try to find a VP who could counter his weaknesses. Cheney probably won't be seeking an historic appointment to that post since he won't be pressured by his party to do so (quite the opposite, in fact), and his best choice, Colin Powell, is serving in his cabinet. Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum would be an appealing choice for his blue-collar appeal, ties to Bush's evangelical supporters, and ability to connect with the public. Another choice who wouldn't tip the scales in the senate would be Senator George Allen. I think either of these options is appealing to Cheney's advisors for bringing some youth to the administration.

Iraq is, unfortunately, still going to happen. Cheney was among the administration's biggest proponents of the invasion, and Colin Powell simply won't be loud or forceful enough to get the stubborn president to change his mind. Expect that to go about as well as OTL and to dominate the upcoming election as well.

As far as 2004 goes, I think Cheney might face a stronger Democratic field than Bush did IOTL, given that he is untested electorally and is probably not suited to campaign as the top-of-the-ticket choice. Tom Daschle might run, maybe Russ Feingold, perhaps even Al Gore since the race wouldn't be a rematch of 2000. If Democrats want to contrast youth and charisma with Cheney, then John Edwards is probably the beneficiary - but I'm not so convinced he'd be an upgrade seeing as Cheney manhandled him in their VP debate. I'm not seeing room for Hillary yet. The election would probably be close and it would depend on the breaks, but I could see Democrats thinking it was theirs to lose going into the fall. Not sure if Rove is going to be working for Cheney given their rocky relationship, so that takes away a huge GOP advantage. I can see a path for whoever the Dem nominee is, even though it probably will be a squeaker.

I'm not sure what happens after 2004, though. If he loses, Cheney may become an elder statesman of the party - the president who wasn't meant to be but did the best he could. If he wins, it is anyone's guess what he would do in terms of policy with a term all of his own as he was starting to be sidelined at this point. Regardless of his policies, he will, like Bush, be defined how he handles the series of challenges starting with Katrina and ending with the recession. And again, his lack of charisma and inability to bring the nation together may his downfall here. I'd see him leaving office under the same cloud as Bush but maybe given a bit of a pass by historians since he "was never meant to be president."
 
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