RUN, DICK, RUN…. The Wall Street Journal‘s James Taranto has a piece this week that’s almost hard to believe.

We’d venture that for most people the Obama administration’s see-no-evil approach is comforting. After years of fear and vigilance, it’s nice to be able to relax and not worry so much about terrorism.

It’s nice — but potentially dangerous. If the Bush administration’s policies really did keep us safe for 7 1/2 years, then it stands to reason that the Obama administrations’ policies may be endangering us now. Certainly that is how the public would see it in the event of another terrorist attack.

If that happens, heaven forbid, Obama will be seen to have failed in the most basic presidential duty, and the Bush administration will be vindicated. As inconceivable as it may seem today, the 2012 election may end up turning on national security. Republicans would be wise to nominate someone with both toughness and experience. Under such circumstances, it’s hard to think of a better candidate — assuming, of course, that he could be persuaded to run — than Richard B. Cheney.

It’s like reading a dispatch from an alternate reality. Taranto believes the White House isn’t taking national security threats seriously. That’s crazy. Taranto believes the Bush/Cheney team was effective in combating terrorism. That’s wrong. Taranto believes Dick Cheney should be the Republican presidential nominee in 2012. I don’t even have a good adjective for that one.

But it’s Taranto’s point about how he wants the public to react “in the event of another terrorist attack” that’s especially odious here. It falls into a tired and offensive pattern among far-right voices — laying down markers now so they can blame Obama if/when there’s another terrorist attack on American soil. This has been happening pretty consistently for months, and it continues to be ridiculous.

As Jason Zengerle noted when this rhetoric started, “You almost get the sense [these conservatives] are hoping for an attack so that they can blame Obama when it happens.”


Should tragedy strike, a few too many conservative voices will want to tear this country apart. They’re intent on laying the groundwork now.

Steve Benen

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.