For much of the Beltway, the Cheney surge is baffling. After all, when Mr. Cheney left office, his reputation seemed divided between those who thought him a punch line on late-night TV and those who thought him a war criminal. As so often happens, however, the conventional wisdom seems to have blinded Mr. Cheney’s ideological opponents to the many advantages he brings to the table.
First is his consistency. The case he is making now is the same case he has been making for the past seven years. Even people who disagree with that case would have to concede its coherence, resting as it does on the notion that the United States is at war with terrorists and must react as a nation at war.
By contrast, Mr. Obama’s war policies are increasingly incoherent. As a candidate, he excoriated the Bush approach to terror root and branch. As president, however, he has adopted some of the Bush policies, flip-flopped to the Bush side on others, and found himself at odds with his own party on closing down Guantanamo.