A VERY SMALL FAN CLUB…. Bill Kristol has been watching Dick Cheney’s offensive against the White House and after careful evaluation, the Weekly Standard editor is convinced that the former vice president is absolutely right about everything. Imagine that.

[W]hile some Hill Republicans were fretting about getting a positive message out and others were launching substance-free listening tours, while GOP operatives were wringing their hands about whether Republicans could recover from the Bush years, and while most senior Bush alumni were in hiding, Dick Cheney — Darth Vader himself, Mr. Unpopularity, the last guy you’d supposedly want out there making the case — stepped onto the field. He’s made himself the Most Valuable Republican of the first four months of the Obama administration….

The real question any Republican strategist should ask himself is this: What will Republican chances be in 2012 if voters don’t remember the Bush administration — however problematic in other areas — as successful in defending the country after 9/11? To give this issue away would be to accept a post-Herbert-Hoover-like-fate for today’s GOP. That’s why Republicans should listen carefully when Cheney gives a speech this week in which he’ll lay out the case for the surveillance, detention, and interrogation policies of the Bush administration in the war against terror.

It’s one of those rare times in which the Democratic National Committee and Bill Kristol want the exact same thing: for Dick Cheney to take the lead and for Republicans to hold on tight to Bush-era policies.

Kristol concluded his love letter to the former vice president by gushing, “Dick Cheney probably won’t be the glamour quarterback of the Republican comeback. But he’s proving to be a heck of a middle linebacker.”

Sticking with the metaphor, Kristol seems unaware of the fact that his MVP was supposed to have retired quite a while ago; he led the league in costly penalties for eight years straight; football fans are sick of him; but he feels the need to keep playing because he’s on a team with a strikingly weak bench.

Coach Kristol can keep cheering him on, but that doesn’t mean he can make a play. Indeed, the other team seems awfully happy to see him on the field.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.