It seems almost predictable that with Mitt Romney in Israel encouraging their government to start an unnecessary war, that the man whose lies and paranoia led America into a disastrous, unjustified and unnecessary war would have the chutzpah to presume to advise the apparent GOP nominee whom to select as his Vice Presidential running mate.

It’s now generally accepted that Dick Cheney’s advice to George Bush — pick me! pick me! – helped lead to over 4,500 pointless American deaths, tens of thousands of wounded, hundreds of thousands of tragic Iraqi deaths, millions of exiles and untold civil destruction that still makes the front pages of our newspapers.  Once you add in the incalculable damage Dick Cheney’s team did to the US Constitution, international laws against torture, the rule of law in general, and American prestige, it’s hard to imagine a more disastrous choice for Vice President in our history.

So it’s astonishing that anyone would ask Dick Cheney for his advice about whom Mitt Romney should choose for a running mate, but ABC is beyond embarrassment on such matters.  And their report can’t even explain what’s so absurd about Cheney’s comments about Sarah Palin.  From ABC’s Cheney interview:

Cheney would not comment on what he told Romney and Myers, but he was harsh in his assessment of McCain’s decision to pick Palin.

“That one,” Cheney said, “I don’t think was well handled.”

“The test to get on that small list has to be, ‘Is this person capable of being president of the United States?’”

Cheney believes Sarah Palin failed that test.

“I like Governor Palin. I’ve met her. I know her. She – attractive candidate. But based on her background, she’d only been governor for, what, two years. I don’t think she passed that test…of being ready to take over. And I think that was a mistake.”

Well, no, Dick.  The problem with John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin had very little to do with her lack of experience, which Cheney equates with “capable of being president . . .”  The problem with Sarah Palin was that she was and still is a nitwit.  Most sentient beings — and certainly anyone responsible for vetting candidates — would be able to determine she was a nitwit after listening to her for five minutes.  No amount of experience was going to cure that, and they knew that.  But the desperate and elderly John McCain didn’t care that a clueless nitwit might become President.  He just wanted a miracle to help spark and save his candidacy, regardless of the risks it posed for the country.  That utter lack of character should disqualify the man from ever being asked for his opinion again.

But the problem is not just McCain’s spectacularly irresponsible judgment.  Cheney is merely repeating the standard view that “capable of being President” is primarily about relevant experience — which most candidates never possess because the job is so unique — and not about the character and predilections of the women/men who presume to be qualified. What matters is what values and beliefs they hold paramount and what they’re willing to do to further or protect those values, given the national situation and the challenges it faces.

In 2008, the relevant question for John McCain and Barack Obama to answer was what view they had about the nature and causes of the nation’s troubles and what, given our institutions, our history, our capabilities, we could and should do about those problems.  It turns out that neither man (nor their primary opponents) had a credible and convincing understanding of what was pulling America apart and most Americans into peril. And they still don’t.  (Mitt isn’t even in the right book)

One of the most serious problems America faces in this period is that neither Presidential candidate, neither party, and none of the people in positions of leadership or running for office, let alone those preening to be Romney’s running mate, seems to understand, care, or proposes to address the fact that America’s mega-corporate/financial sectors have inordinate power, have corrupted all levels of American government and which now facilitates the systematic looting of the country with almost no legal accountability.  There isn’t a single leader explaining that this combination, and the corrupt billionaires funding the misdirection needed to keep the perpetrators in power,  pose an existential threat to the national economy and the security and well-being of ordinary citizens.  No one is running on a platform that admits that this pervasive corruption, when harnessed to an exceptionalist justification for American militarism, also poses a threat to the safety of people in many other nations.

The notion that Dick Cheney, the former Halliburton exec, would recommend anyone other than someone who would perpetuate and exacerbate this human calamity is preposterous.  Indeed, Sarah Palin’s clueless incompetence might even be a plus, but the last thing we need is another MiniMe.