Every so often the Right trots out Dick Cheney to make astonishing pronouncements before he slinks back into relative anonymity to shoot hunting pals in the face or whatever it is discredited ideologues do when drummed off the public stage.
The one reliable truth of Mr. Chaney is that when he comes out of obscurity his comments are always calibrated to whip his remaining partisans into an election year lather, while straining to paper over the sad legacy of war and economic collapse that is his hallmark.
It is July before an election and Republicans are capitalizing on President Obama’s perplexing unpopularity. Mr. Cheney is helping to mobilize reliable conservative voters to turn incumbent Democrats out of office in marginal districts where Obama is a stigma. The former Vice President was in rare form in his latest public whirlwind around mediaville.
Mr. Chaney outdid even himself with statements made in various media formats during the past several days. What he said was, “President Obama is the worst President of my lifetime.”
Give that quote a second to sink in.
Cheney, who co-engineered the most catastrophic Presidential train wreck of any of our lives said, “Obama is the worst President of my lifetime.”
Worse than boss-man Bush. Worse than the much maligned Carter. Worse than the Right-reviled Roosevelt and the impeached Nixon.
It is noteworthy that Cheney’s declaration did not articulate what makes Obama the worst President of his lifetime. He would have a hard time finding even one failure that would qualify the President for bearing such a mantel.
The economy? No, Obama's policies have brought the economy back from the brink that Bush/Cheney were instrumental in driving us to.
Foreign Policy? Well, at least Obama didn’t contrive a war that destabilized the Mideast for a generation. He did restore America’s standing as the world’s moral leader, however.
Moral scandal permeating his Administration? Hardly a legitimate whiff of one in 6 years.
Health Care? Despite radical attempts in the Republican House and in many Red states to sabotage it, ObamaCare is already a success for millions.
Courage? Obama alone had the fortitude to order the kill on Bin Laden when the odds of success were in doubt.
The Environment? Saving the Auto industry? Getting paid back early and in full? Retiring our reliance on Stimulus debt early? Restoring all the jobs and more lost by the previous Administration?
Even Obama’s foreign policy Achilles heel—the trumped-up Benghazi episode—is hardly a legacy-defining issue.
Experts will say Cheney’s bizarre statement is aimed at two audiences: the Far Right, which accepts whatever Cheney says as gospel and thus is a mobilizing strategy; and political Independents who are deeply conflicted about who to support and tend to vacillate between political parties.
The real target of his statements is History. Cheney wants to revise it by demonizing his political opponents while sanitizing the destructiveness of his own actions. For many Republicans, Cheney and Bush are pariahs in their own Party. He’ll have to work the rest of his life to neutralize that reality, but history has spoken.
Mr. Cheney may have the darkest personality of any political leader of our time. Behind his foreboding countenance is a voice that whispers that shrill attacks on Democrats are a way to deflect attention away from personal flaws of almost Oedipal proportion.
Conservative militants still like him, so he is a reliable foil to make irrational statements while rationalizing ways to defend his own failed agenda.
So Mr. Cheney periodically re-appears on-stage, and makes his case.
And after he has, he retreats again to the shadows of public life; and when few are watching, slips away to an undisclosed location.