Former Atlantic writer and often-BBR-linked-to blogger Ross Douthat made his debut in the New York Times on Tuesday, penning a column on the hypothetical scenario that Dick Cheney ran for president last year.
This is precisely the sort of conservatism that's ascendant in today's much-reduced Republican Party, from the talk radio dials to the party's grassroots. And a Cheney-for-President campaign would have been an instructive test of its political viability.

As a candidate, Cheney would have doubtless been as disciplined and ideologically consistent as McCain was feckless. In debates with Barack Obama, he would have been as cuttingly effective as he was in his encounters with Joe Lieberman and John Edwards in 2000 and 2004 respectively. And when he went down to a landslide loss, the conservative movement might - might! - have been jolted into the kind of rethinking that's necessary if it hopes to regain power.

If a Cheney defeat could have been good for the Republican Party; a Cheney campaign could have been good for the country. The former vice-president's post-election attacks on Obama are bad form, of course, under the peculiar rules of Washington politesse. But they're part of an argument about the means and ends of our interrogation policy that should have happened during the general election and didn't - because McCain wasn't a supporter of the Bush-era approach, and Obama didn't see a percentage in harping on the topic.

Thought provoking, no? How do you think he did? Sound off in the comments section below.

jeremy.jacobs@thehill.com