ENCOURAGING DICK…. As you may have heard, Newsweek‘s Jon Meacham has a provocative item in the new issue, encouraging Dick Cheney to run for president because it would be “good for the Republicans and good for the country.” There are more than few problems with the argument, but the part that stood out for me is the notion that we need a “referendum on competing visions” of government.

One of the problems with governance since the election of Bill Clinton has been the resolute refusal of the opposition party (the GOP from 1993 to 2001, the Democrats from 2001 to 2009, and now the GOP again in the Obama years) to concede that the president, by virtue of his victory, has a mandate to take the country in a given direction. A Cheney victory would mean that America preferred a vigorous unilateralism to President Obama’s unapologetic multilateralism, and vice versa. […]

A campaign would … give us an occasion that history denied us in 2008: an opportunity to adjudicate the George W. Bush years in a direct way.

I seem to recall a lengthy process — I believe it was called “the presidential election of 2008” — where Americans were given a choice between a continuation of Bush/Cheney policies and a more progressive, Democratic approach. I also seem to recall the outcome — a one-sided victory for the Dem.

It’s true that the defeated and humiliated Republican Party maintains that the president did not earn a mandate, but why would an Obama victory over Cheney change the GOP’s mind? 365 electoral votes weren’t enough?

For that matter, is the jury still out on the Bush presidency? Meacham sees the need for additional adjudication “in a direct way.” I’m not sure what more evidence anyone would need that Bush failed in spectacular and historic ways, in practically every area of public policy. It will take many, many years to address the fiascos of the last eight years.

Meacham sees these catastrophes and thinks, “What we really need is the failed president’s vice president to seek national office.” There’s no reason to think that’s a good idea.

The Newsweek editor added, “No one foresaw Cheney’s reemergence as a force in the politics of the 21st century until it happened.” Did it? Sure, the mainstream media loves to follow Dick Cheney’s attack of the day, but when, exactly, did the unpopular and discredited former vice president “reemerge as a force in the politics of the 21st century”? I don’t remember that happening.

Indeed, rank-and-file Republicans were asked in a new poll about who best reflects the party’s principles. Just one chose Dick Cheney — not 1 percent, I mean one individual person.

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.