LUGAR DEFENDS OBAMA AGAINST CHENEY ATTACKS…. After Dick Cheney’s loathsome attacks against President Obama last week, most Republicans were content to cheer the disgraced former vice president on. There have been a few exceptions.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), for example, said earlier this week, “I think [Cheney] had his eight years, and he’s caused a lot of trouble for our country and perpetuated a war in Iraq unnecessary and wrong-headed. I would say it would be best he not be so critical right now.” Similarly, former Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia, who left the GOP to become a Libertarian, called Cheney’s vile criticism “asinine.”

But as nice as it was to see Paul’s and Barr’s pushback, neither are especially influential with the political establishment. It’s why I found this item, by way of Teagan Goddard, noteworthy.

Richard Lugar, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, defended President Barack Obama’s handling of recent terrorism threats, taking issue with former Vice President Dick Cheney’s criticism.

“It’s unfair,” Lugar said in an interview for Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend. “I think the president is focused.”

Cheney, who frequently has led Republican attacks on the Democratic president since leaving office a year ago, told Politico on Dec. 29 that Obama “is trying to pretend we are not at war” with a “low-key response” to the Dec. 25 attempt to ignite a bomb aboard a flight to Detroit.

To the contrary, Obama has demonstrated “firmness” and “decisiveness,” Lugar, who represents Indiana, said. “That’s been the antidote to the criticism.”

Keep in mind, Lugar isn’t exactly a moderate — he’s always been a conservative senator.

And even he has no use for Cheney’s nonsense.

I don’t imagine this will suddenly change a lot of minds or alter the discourse, but Lugar enjoys considerable respect and credibility in the Senate, and his defense of the president will be noticed.

If there were only a few more like him in the Senate, we might even be able to have a real discussion about national security policy. It’s a fanciful notion, I know, but I’m a dreamer.

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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.