Much has been made of the return of America's neoconservative Iraq hawks to the media circuits since that country's slow descent into chaos became a fast descent into chaos. But now that war's coming back, Dick Cheney is having a real moment. Not just a moment: He's straight-up MacArthuring.

Symmetry in American politics is a funny thing, and a weirdly underreported one. At this point in George W. Bush's presidency, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars looked like failures, anti-war politicians on the left and right were exploiting the administration's loss of popular confidence, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was getting his retirement plan ready, and the United States was casting about for a new strategy in Iraq that could get American troops out sooner.

Now, the "peace" that Barack Obama's administration half-inherited, half-built is unraveling. Republicans, even their alleged foreign-policy doves, are wrestling for good seats on the bomb-Iraq-and-Syria-and-whoever-else train. The U.S. is actively looking for a way in to the fight against ISIS.

Re-elected incumbent presidents always face these moments, heading into their last midterm election cycle. You've been the big cheese for six years now. You undeniably own your administration's earlier successes and failures. And everybody's grown weary of whatever successes there were. The pressure to do something big is immense—especially when there's a bunch of psychotic sadists with funny names and funny religious interpretations drawing attention to their bloody, if provincial, hatred for Americans in the press.

And in rides Richard Bruce "Two Hearts" Cheney.

Witness: Yesterday, in the Huffington Post:

WASHINGTON — The United States needs to rev up the war in Iraq, former Vice President Dick Cheney told Republicans Tuesday on Capitol Hill — and most lawmakers seemed to agree with the man perhaps best known as a lead architect of America's ill-fated 2003 intervention there.

And in Bloomberg Businessweek:

Former Vice President Dick Cheney is re-emerging as a critic of White House foreign policy and, Republicans say, signaling interest in steering the party toward a 2016 presidential nominee who identifies with a pro-military posture.

And in the Daily Beast:

According to Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana, Cheney said Obama "has actually done things that have supported the Muslim Brotherhood." The former vice president then went on to name the Muslim Brotherhood as "the beginning of all the Islamist groups that we're dealing with now like Hamas and ISIS."

This morning, the Wall Street Journal declared in an op-ed that "Dick Cheney Is Still Right," prompting this from one of his daughters—the one who's a quitter:

The New York Times, in extending Cheney's whatever-the-opposite-of-a-charm-offensive-is, committed a Freudian slip in print:

And Cheney, proving that his penchant for preemptive war has not waned, triumphantly bloviated today at the American Enterprise Institute in advance of President Obama's ISIS speech this evening. The AEI appearance prompted one of the most awkward prolonged standing ovations since Stalin at the XVIIIth Party Congress—prolonged only by the insistence by one or two Cheney stalwarts that their fellow audience members should stand up and give the man a harumph.

Here's a quick rundown, according to one journalist who was there, of how that speech went:

Note the sandy grain of resonant truth around which Cheney builds up his pearl of sheer and utter crazy: Yes, polls show Americans overwhelmingly support some form of military action against the Islamic State. (It's not clear how many of those Americans realize there is currently military action against the Islamic State.) For all my own skepticism about what can really be accomplished, and whether force may prove to be counterproductive, I can't shake the feeling that what these takfir soccer hooligans want more than anything is to be martyred, and who am I to deny them?

But Cheney is saying that if you believe in striking ISIS with force, you also must believe that Barack Obama caused this far-off phenomenon by being weak and feeble and also a secret Muslim, and you must also want endless war in Afghanistan, and war with anyone we hate who may someday sometime avail itself of the same mass-killing weaponry we have. (Read: Iran. North Korea.)

What makes this all the more maddening is that Cheney is casting aspersions of weakness, of fifth-columnness, and of alienness on a presidential administration that bombed the holy hell out of Libya; that bombs locals (and sometimes Americans) with pilot-less robotic model airplanes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere; that at this very moment is actively bombing the very people Richard Bruce Cheney says he should be bombing; that is about to announce more bombing in more places; and that has expanded, not contracted, the scope of a security state that Hoovers up our electronic communications and locks down on leakers and whistleblowers.

This, to Cheney, is the face of feeble America.

His is not merely a Manichaean worldview: It is a manly Manichaean worldview, in that it can only be devised and offered up by a mean white man of means, whose testicular fortitude compensates for his cardiovascular infirmity, who conceals his establishmentarian breeding with a cowboy hat and an interior American twang.

If that's what you're really into, America, than go for it. Again. Go greet your liberator, who will eagerly free you of your burdens of critical thought and responsibility, who will unbridle and indulge every violent id-impulse that you may briefly harbor against the world outside Fortress America's walls. Just don't be surprised if, somewhere down the line, you find yourself in need of a new heart.

[Photo credit: Getty Images]