Cheney and Chalabi's resurgence: Iraq saga's worst actors are back to annoy everyone

Dick Cheney and Ahmad Chalabi are trying to heal their images. That should annoy anyone with a sense of decency

Published July 1, 2014 4:20PM (EDT)

  (AP/Olivia Harris/Hadi Mizban)
(AP/Olivia Harris/Hadi Mizban)

It truly is comeback season for terrible people from the Iraq War saga. You can feel it in the air. Or, by turning on your television, and seeing some dingbat war clown from back in the day return to a panel of Foreign Policy Experts. Some would say that this is an elaborate conspiracy to troll liberals. But perhaps it's an elaborate conspiracy to troll everyone who's sick of these people, which is to say most people.

Today Politico gives us an update on the Liz and Dick Cheney publicity tour, in which two people who despise the will of the American people have launched a new political nonprofit to sway the will of the American people back toward constant, reckless, never-ending warfare against most earthlings. As the Politico piece explains, though, the Cheneys aren't just trying to re-earn their way back into the welcoming embrace of the stupid public. More important, they're trying to mend friendships with the famed GOP establishment, who were ticked off by Liz Cheney's hilarious and short-lived Wyoming senatorial campaign.

How does a father-daughter tandem like Liz and Dick Cheney reingratiate itself? By attending some of the more self-parodic but all too real Republican Beltway insider social events imaginable. First, there's a "friendly, off-the-record dinner" at the tony Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington with "top GOP operatives and former Reagan and Bush officials." Sounds charming. And then there's ... this.

Earlier this spring, Cheney and his wife, Lynne, attended conservative writer George Will’s annual spring baseball soiree at his home in Chevy Chase, Md., to fete the Washington Nationals’ opening game. One attendee said it was the first time in years that the former vice president and his wife had gone to the exclusive party. As Cheney worked the room, another person there said, he recalled throwing out the first pitch for the Nationals in 2006, joking that the ball bounced to home plate.

For most people, watching a Nats game with George Will sounds like a perfect vision of hell. For GOP insiders, it's the hottest ticket of the spring. In any event, the socializing appears to have helped the Cheney's "mend fences" with the party. (The piece goes on to suggest that Liz Cheney hasn't exactly made up with her sister, Mary, after denouncing same-sex marriage. But whatever, that's just some sister. She's got George Will back in her corner!)

And guess who else is back? Ahmad Chalabi, who's only ever wanted to rule Iraq and now may get the chance. The New York Times reports:

He took millions of dollars from the C.I.A., founded and was accused of defrauding the second-biggest bank in Jordan and sold the Bush administration a bill of goods on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

At first championed by the Bush administration’s neoconservatives as a potential leader of Iraq, Ahmad Chalabi ended up persona non grata, effectively barred from the wartime American Embassy here. Now, in an improbable twist of fate, Mr. Chalabi is being talked about as a serious candidate for prime minister. He has also been back to the embassy.

So there you have it: Just as the (not so good to begin with!) situation in Iraq takes a sudden nose dive, we have Cheney trying to reassert control in Washington and Chalabi doing the same in Baghdad.

It should frustrate most people to see these two discredited charlatans anywhere near the policymaking apparatus in any country. Just as a simple right vs. wrong thing. But in a strange piece at Hot Air, Noah Rothman writes that Chalabi's return is good ... or bad ... or something ... well, in any case, it's going to drive the left nuts, so cheers to that!

In the pantheon of figures the left regards as personally responsible for The Tragedy of Tragedies that was the Iraq War, Chalabi occupies a position as condemnable as that of Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld. His rehabilitation would represent yet another rebuke of the Obama administration’s efforts to reverse Bush’s footprint on geopolitics. And it would drive the left positively insane.

Well, yeah? It certainly merits an eye roll or two. We're not so sure that it represents "yet another rebuke of" Obama's handling of Iraq, either. It would seem to confirm another element of the left's critique of the Iraq War: that the Bush administration believed and acted on the lies of a man who just wanted to consolidate power for himself in Iraq, and now is on the cusp of doing so.

Hey now. Why should the resurgence of Dick Cheney and Ahmad Chalabi just irritate the left? That assumes that public disapproval of Obama's handling of Iraq is mirrored by a surge in public approval of the Cheney line on Iraq: that starting the war was the right idea and we had it won and we should have kept an occupying force in the country indefinitely. The public may be upset over President Obama's lack of a magic Iraq wand, but they sure are glad to be out of Iraq and believe that getting involved was a mistake to begin with.

By Jim Newell

Jim Newell covers politics and media for Salon.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Ahmad Chalabi Bush Administration Dick Cheney Iraq Liars Liz Cheney Media Criticism Noah Rothman