A Washington-based lawyer and former political director for the Log Cabin Republicans named Christopher Barron filed papers last week to launch a group called "Draft Cheney 2012." The group now has a web site where you can sign on to try and convince the former vice president to jump into the presidential fray next time around. "We hope," reads the banner on the site, "that you will join our effort to convince former Vice President Richard Cheney to run for president of the United States in 2012. No other Republican leader has the stature or experience of Dick Cheney. He alone can lead the Republican coalition to victory in 2012!" There's also another site, possibly a joke, touting a Palin/Cheney ticket in 2012.
Sure. Why not? After the madness and stupidity of the last ten years, having the political version of Gilligan and the Skipper share a ticket for the highest office in the land makes a demented kind of sense. After all, once you've hit the bottom of the barrel, you might as well stay and enjoy the view.
Mr. Barron appears deadly serious about drafting Cheney to run in '12, despite the fact that the former VP and his four heart attacks publicly stated he will not run. "We know that Dick Cheney doesn't want to run for president," said Barron in a recent interview. "This is about convincing the former vice president that we need him to run. And I think there is only one man who is capable of bringing the entire Republican coalition together and speaking with clarity about the values that have made our party great. And that is Vice President Cheney."
Barron is not alone in his opinion, Bill Kristol, writing some months back on his Weekly Standard blog, likewise saluted the as-yet-nonexistent Cheney 2012 banner, but with a twist. "Of course," wrote Kristol, "everyone's first choice for president in 2012 is Dick Cheney. But Liz Cheney's boffo performance yesterday in the lefties' den, MSNBC, defending sensible interrogation policies in the war on terror, surely puts her in contention for the runner-up position."
A recent Newsweek article by author Jon Meacham further fleshed out the Cheney-should-run argument. "Why?" wrote Meacham. "Because Cheney is a man of conviction, has a record on which he can be judged, and whatever the result, there could be no ambiguity about the will of the people. The best way to settle arguments is by having what we used to call full and frank exchanges about the issues, and then voting. A contest between Dick Cheney and Barack Obama would offer us a bracing referendum on competing visions. One of the problems with governance since the election of Bill Clinton has been the resolute refusal of the opposition party (the GOP from 1993 to 2001, the Democrats from 2001 to 2009, and now the GOP again in the Obama years) to concede that the president, by virtue of his victory, has a mandate to take the country in a given direction. A Cheney victory would mean that America preferred a vigorous unilateralism to President Obama's unapologetic multilateralism, and vice versa."
This is quite a country we live in, isn't it? The Republican Party, once the dominant force on the political landscape, has caved in upon itself so completely that people in that party actually think this is a good idea. The unofficial front-runners for the GOP nomination in 2012 include former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who would seem to be a sane choice, save for the fact that his adherence to the Mormon faith puts him at odds with the all-powerful-in-the-primaries GOP base, which considers Mormonism to be a satanic cult. There is former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, whose prisoner-pardon policies have made him into a one-man crime spree that includes rape and the murder of four Seattle police officers. There is former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who is just slightly less qualified for the job than a sack of hair.
And now, thanks to a few fringe voices, there is Dick Cheney. The former VP is, of course, the most famous living Republican aside from George W. Bush. For eight years, he ran the Bush administration on the sneak, unleashing a campaign of fear, warfare and wild spending that has caused the very viability of this American experiment to teeter on the brink of collapse. This was the man who claimed the office of the vice president was not part of the Executive Branch because he did not want to obey the law and hand his official papers over to the National Archive. This was the man who tore the country and a fair portion of the planet apart with statements like these:
"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction." - 8/26/2002
"Iraq could decide on any given day to provide biological or chemical weapons to a terrorist group or to individual terrorists ... The war on terror will not be won until Iraq is completely and verifiably deprived of weapons of mass destruction." - 12/1/2002
"Let's talk about the nuclear proposition for a minute. We know that based on intelligence, that has been very, very good at hiding these kinds of efforts. He's had years to get good at it and we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." - 3/16/2003
"There are a lot of lessons we want to learn out of this process in terms of what works. I think we are in fact on our way to getting on top of the whole Katrina exercise." - 9/10/2005
It is tempting to laugh this off along with the idea that Huckabee or Palin could actually be considered viable candidates in 2012, except it isn't funny. Dick Cheney belongs in a prison cell, not in a conversation about the presidency of the United States. That we actually have people floating his name in the first place reveals just how dark some of the corners of our politics really are. Worse, these are the people whose ideals and ideology were the dominant force in government for most of this decade, so dismissing them out of hand is a truly dangerous error in judgment.
Indeed, quite a country we live in.