The leading architect of the Iraq war will be on Capitol Hill for a private chat with House Republicans on Tuesday, just as Congress is grappling again with how involved the United States should be in the region's snowballing unrest. Yes, as in Dick Cheney, one of the war's most ardent defenders. The former vice president was invited by the GOP's campaign arm to speak at its first weekly conference meeting since Congress's five-week break, a House GOP official confirmed.
It was just a few months ago when the Republican Study Committee, a group of far-right House GOP lawmaker, invited former Vice President Dick Cheney to Capitol Hill to complain about President Obama for a while. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), now a member of the House GOP leadership, said at the time, in reference to Cheney, "He's got a lot of credibility when it comes to talking about foreign policy."
I don't think he was kidding.
Apparently, this thinking remains quite pervasive among GOP lawmakers, who keep extending invitations to Cheney, his spectacular failures and incompetence notwithstanding. The Washington Post reported late yesterday:
It says something important about Republican lawmakers that to better understand international affairs, they not only keep turning to failed former officials, they keep seeking guidance from the same failed former official.
Indeed, this isn't a situation in which was Cheney was just wandering around, looking for someone who'd listen to his mindless condemnations of the president who's cleaning up Cheney's messes, and GOP lawmakers agreed to listen as a courtesy. Rather, Congressional Republicans have gone out of their way to make the former V.P. one of their most sought after instructors.
Just in this Congress, Cheney has been on Capitol Hill advising GOP lawmakers over and over and over again.
It's tempting to start the usual diatribe, highlighting all of Cheney's horrific failures, his spectacular misjudgments, and his propensity for dishonesty on a breathtaking scale. But let's skip that, stipulating that Cheney's tenure in national office was a genuine disaster, the effects of which Americans will be dealing with for many years to come.
Let's instead note how truly remarkable the timing of Cheney's latest invitation to Capitol Hill is.
Republicans are concerned about the threat posed by ISIS? The group's existence is largely the result of the disastrous war Cheney helped launch under false pretenses.
Republicans are outraged that the White House is completing a plan for the next phase of the U.S. counter-terrorism policy? Cheney's the guy who helped invade Iraq without a plan for what would happen after the war began.
I talked to a Democratic source last night who also reminded me of the current circumstances in Iraq, which are illustrative of a larger point. During Cheney's tenure, the U.S. policy in Iraq was incoherent -- the Republican White House couldn't figure out what to do about the terrorist threat, parts of which they inadvertently helped create; picked Maliki to run the country almost at random; and struggled to understand the value of political solutions.
President Obama, meanwhile, has been adept where Cheney was clueless -- patiently pushing Maliki aside and helping produce tangible political results in Baghdad, including the ones we saw just yesterday.
I don't imagine any of this will come up during today's "private chat."