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Editorial: Losers Laments From Dick Cheney and Mitt Romney

It is said that generals are always preparing to fight the last war, especially if they have won it. Dick Cheney and Mitt Romney are taking a slightly different tack: They are getting ready to refight wars — one actual, one political — they lost disastrously.

Cheney, 73, reported by The New York Times to be reinvigorated by a heart transplant (or would it be an implant?) that he underwent two years ago, re-entered the public discourse last month with an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, written with his daughter Liz, that excoriated President Obama’s foreign policy. The proximate cause of this outburst, which the former vice president followed by interviews in friendly media settings, was the ascendence of Islamic militants in eastern Syria and western Iraq. “Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many,” the Cheneys wrote.

Dick Cheney certainly has a deep reservoir of expertise in presidential failures that have catastrophic consequences. He, after all, was one of the principal architects of America’s tragic misadventure in Iraq, a project constructed out of deception, arrogance, miscalculation and bad judgment.

While it is understandable that Cheney would be frustrated that Obama has not spent more blood and treasure to redeem the previous administration’s grievous blunder, common decency — of which Cheney manifestly has none — demands that he hold his peace. History is rightly going to treat the George W. Bush administration harshly, no member of it more so than Cheney, who was only too happy to send other people’s children off to die in a trumped up war.

Ironically, Cheney’s attempt to rehabilitate the “muscular” foreign policy that his tenure did so much to discredit is likely to provoke the most controversy within the Republican Party, since the rest of the country long ago ceased to listen. For example, when Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a potential presidential contender, took issue with Cheney’s version of the Iraq story, Cheney responded by calling him “basically an isolationist.” If, in fact, the Republicans return to their isolationist roots, Cheney will bear much of the blame.

Meanwhile, Romney has been bringing his particular brand of political genius to bear on behalf of Scott Brown, who hopes to unseat U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen this fall. Among the things that Romney and Brown have had in common are Massachusetts residency and second homes in New Hampshire (until Brown moved here seven months ago). Thus was enacted, at an event in Stratham last week, the strange spectacle of a former Massachusetts governor endorsing a former Massachusetts U.S. senator who now wants to represent New Hampshire in the United States Senate. In his remarks, according to the Times, Romney also despaired of America’s place in the world in the age of Obama and derided Shaheen as a knee-jerk supporter of the president.

It is interesting to note that the centerpiece of Brown’s campaign seems to be repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which so far appears to be quite successful in New Hampshire, and in the country as a whole. What makes this position notable is that Obamacare is modeled after Romneycare, its Massachusetts forerunner that Brown voted for as a Massachusetts state lawmaker.

That Brown wants to engage on this subject makes one wonder if he has studied the 2012 election returns in New Hampshire, a swing state that Obama carried over Romney by nearly 6 percentage points. It’s one thing if Romney wants to refight his battle with Obama, but Brown is by no means obliged to wage his campaign under a losing banner.