Cheney hearts Rush

CHENEY HEARTS RUSH…. The good news for Democrats is that Dick Cheney, despite assurances about exiting the stage, keeps talking. The better news for Democrats is the message the former vice president chooses to emphasize.

One of the main goals of the DNC this year, for example, has been to position Rush Limbaugh as a leader, if not the leader, of the Republican Party. Yesterday, Cheney helped move this argument forward.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney said on Sunday that he preferred Rush Limbaugh’s brand of conservatism to former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell’s, saying Mr. Powell had abandoned the Republican Party when he endorsed Barack Obama for president last year.

“Well, if I had to choose in terms of being a Republican, I’d go with Rush Limbaugh, I think,” Mr. Cheney said in an interview on “Face the Nation” on CBS. “I think my take on it was Colin had already left the party. I didn’t know he was still a Republican.”

Mr. Cheney said he “assumed” Mr. Powell’s support of Mr. Obama over Senator John McCain was “an indication of his loyalty and his interest.”

This is, of course, music to the DNC’s ears. Putting aside the question of whether Powell’s image deserves rehabilitation — there’s ample reason to believe his Bush administration service tarnished his reputation beyond repair — the former Secretary of State remains a respected public figure. For most of the country, I suspect, admiration for Powell dwarfs toleration for Limbaugh.

Which is why Cheney’s comments yesterday were so helpful for the GOP’s detractors. As the Republican Party shrinks, and more Americans would prefer to see more influence from moderates like Powell and less influence from right-wing radio hosts, a wildly unpopular former vice president publicly embraced the opposite line. Indeed, he effectively dismissed the very idea of Powell even being a Republican anymore, throwing his support to the loudmouth who wants to see the president and his policies fail.

Dick Cheney, the DNC’s manna from heaven.

In the same interview, Cheney effectively argued that a failure to torture will kill Americans; said he may be willing to testify under oath about the administration’s torture policies; conceded that Bush personally “signed off on” the torture program; and added that he has “no regrets” over his alleged wrongdoing.

If you missed yesterday’s interview, you can a) watch it online; or b) wait for Cheney’s next national television appearance, which if recent history is any guide, should be any day now.