NOTHING IS OVER UNTIL THEY SAY IT IS
At Politico, Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei devote 1,853 words to what they say as a burning question:
[Dick] Cheney's broadsides on Afghanistan policy, detention and surveillance policies, and Obama's general philosophy about the U.S. role in a dangerous world inevitably dominate the news....
The former vice president's success in driving the Obama debate has prompted a secondary debate of its own: Why does Cheney do it?
Beyond the obvious answer -- which is "because he can," given the fact that he always knew that his pals in talk radio and at Fox would keep a seat warm for him, and he should have known that self-hating supposed liberals in the mainstream media would do the same -- there's the simple fact that modern right-wingers exist in two modes: (1) running everything and (2) ceaselessly working to relitigate the process whereby, appallingly, people other than themselves won the opportunity to run things for a while.
I'm picking up the word "relitigate" from a Marc Ambinder post on Sarah Palin, who, Ambinder apparently believes (incorrectly), is unique among top Republicans in wanting to challenge assumptions that might have seemed settled:
... she wants to relitigate a bunch of issues that once were settled but now seem to be unraveling. The unrestricted embrace of immigration and the dilution of an American culture. Overweening Greenism. A complicated socially engineered tax code. A much larger role for government.... The rule of experts. Even the concept of bipartisanship itself.
As I said in response to that a few days ago, all front-list Republicans want to relitigate most or all of these things -- certainly all the GOP presidential candidates in 2012 will.
And Dick Cheney wants to relitigate the following: the 2006 elections, the 2008 elections, his crummy poll numbers, his nominal ex-boss's crummy poll numbers, every sane person's judgment regarding the wisdom of going into Iraq, every sane person's judgment regarding the conduct of the Iraq War for years after Saddam's overthrow, and the notion that torture is immoral. On at least the last one, he's actually succeeding.
Right-wingers' desire to relitigate the past is hardly new -- the shift of the South to the GOP in the last few decades can be read as an attempt to relitigate the civil rights era, the Civil War, and the cultural changes wrought by other '60s social movements (feminism, gay rights, etc.).
And in a larger sense, wingnuttism is an attempt to religitate the entire twentieth century, whether it's Congressman Paul Ryan seeking to privatize -- whoops! I mean "personalize" -- Social Security and Medicare in the spirit of his hero, Ayn Rand, or it's nutball Massachusetts teabagger and illegal arsenal keeper Greg Girard arguing the following online last month:
Leftists (a.k.a. radical liberals, progressives) have been vigorously pursuing a transformation of this country to a totalitarian communist state for about 100 years or so. For much of the early 20th century, leftist idealogy was so popular in the country that it was in many respects the most popular political perspective, and gave us a string of very leftist Presidents such as Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and FDR, who was famously given to communist ideals. While leftism went out of style, in a relative sense, after Jimmy Carter's devastating term of office, Obama's Presidency energized the leftist majority in Congress, and in state legislatures, to embark on a program of reckless, mindless, and generally illegal/unconstitutional joy ride of totalitarian Marxist policy creation and implementation....
An alternate path of deserved lifelong honor and heroism is one in which a military coup removes the corrupt Federal AND state regimes (all of them) and returns it to trusted Constitutionalist interum team that installs key changes and holds new elections. I pray for this last option, as few or none leave with bloody hands, and a dramatic political restoration may occur in security and peace....
To the right, nothing is irreversible. Cheney's just operating in that spirit.
AND: By contrast, issues that seemingly aren't settled, like tax progressivity or maintaining a petroleum-centric energy policy, seem next to impossible for Democrats to litigate, while on other issues -- e.g., gun control -- no "liberal party" majority seems sufficient to effect change.