DID I READ THIS RIGHT? - AT 11:34 A.M. ET: Apparently I did, and maybe it's a sign of the times. Jon Meacham, the editor of the very liberal Newsweek, is pushing the idea of Dick Cheney running for president in 2012. No, I'm not kidding. It's here:
I think we should be taking the possibility of a Dick Cheney bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 more seriously, for a run would be good for the Republicans and good for the country. (The sound you just heard in the background was liberal readers spitting out their lattes.)
Why? 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.
Well, I must say I'm numb. Will Jon Meacham ever be invited to a proper Manhattan party again? Is his name currently being removed from Rolodexes all over Martha's Vineyard?
A campaign would also give us an occasion that history denied us in 2008: an opportunity to adjudicate the George W. Bush years in a direct way. As John McCain pointed out in the fall of 2008, he is not Bush. Nor is Cheney, but the former vice president would make the case for the harder-line elements of the Bush world view. Far from fading away, Cheney has been the voice of the opposition since the inauguration.
Liberal psychiatrists are rushing to Meacham's office as I write.
No one foresaw Cheney's reemergence as a force in the politics of the 21st century until it happened. So perhaps the pattern is set, a pattern of insistent denial of interest—until it turns out that, hey, he is interested. Cheney's memoirs are due to be published—and thus due to be promoted—in the spring of 2011, not long before the caucuses and primaries begin. I'll bet you that the Barnes & Noble in Des Moines (there's a big one at The Shoppes at Three Fountains) is on the book tour.
I hope it is.
Look, Cheney has a bad heart condition, and I don't think he'll be running. But the fact that the idea can be presented seriously by a serious person is inspiring. Maybe there are elements of the mainstream media that are starting to realize that the last administration had great virtues, and among them were the strong and clear convictions of Dick Cheney.
I hope, though, that if Cheney surprises us and runs, Obamacare is already in place, for the liberals will need a great deal of medication.
November 30, 2009