With George Bush spending a long weekend on "the ranch" -- after claiming that the Iraq war involved national sacrifice -- it was left to Dick Cheney to sell the Surge extension to the loyalists, via interviews with Hugh Hewitt and Sean Hannity. Both interviewers seem to have been working from the same talking points, allowing Cheney to give similar answers. The main issue was Iran; the comments to Hewitt are representative --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I've read about it [end-times, 12th-Imam], too. I don't know that that motivates all of the [Iranian] leadership. The one guy who talks about it repeatedly is Ahmadinejad. And -- in other words, a report even at one point that when he went to Iraq on a visit, that at least on one occasion, he insisted on there being a vacant chair at the table for the 12th Imam. And it's a -- it's hard to tell. I mean, if I look at what his beliefs supposedly are, the allegation that the -- a return of the 12th Imam is something to be much desired, and that the best contribution that a man can make is to die a martyr facilitating that return, and all that goes with it -- I always think of Bernard Lewis, who said that mutual assured destruction during the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviets meant peace and stability and deterrence, but mutual assured destruction in the hands of Ahmadinejad may just be an incentive. It's a worrisome proposition.
Well, Bernard Lewis said a lot of stuff, such as that the Iranians would set in motion the end-times on August 22, 2006. Nothing happened.
Then there's business about Ahmadinejad insisting on an empty chair for the mysterious Imam. Next week at Passover, millions of Jewish people will sit at a table with an extra cup of wine poured for the prophet Elijah and at one point in the evening leave the door open for him. And the hoped for arrival of Elijah is a "messianic" moment, if you will. With implications for the world at least as radical as if the 12th Iman ever shows up. By the Cheney standard, that's dangerous behaviour.