Dick Cheney is what Margaret Thatcher called a conviction politician. Yes, a play on words. I believe torture and eavesdropping violated the law as practiced and predict Cheney will receive a pardon. Though he probably could not care less about a pardon. He did what he thought was right, wrong though he was. Dick Cheney is a bedrock of conviction and if only the Democrats had more high-level leaders who are bedrocks of conviction for what they (we) believe, the world would be a better place and the Democrats would be a better party.

When it appeared that John Kerry could be secretary of State and Russ Feingold would have been in line to be chairman of Senate Foreign Relations, notice that many Democrats gave background quotes to the media that Feingold was "too liberal.” What poppycock. On the great war of our times, Feingold was right, but in Washington circa 2008 being right means nothing, indeed, is a disadvantage even for Obama when he chose his secretaries of State and Defense. No Dick Cheney among Democrats; our party specializes in the maneuver, the triangulation, the hedging of bets and even failed to wage the most aggressive fight against torture, one of the great infamies in American history.

When I worked for the House Democratic leadership, Cheney was with the House Republican leadership and I saw him up close, and personal, in his more moderate days. Many speculate about what moved Cheney so far to the right, but one thing is clear: Dick Cheney takes a position, and fights for it, and has no fear in doing so.

Had Democrats had fighters against the Iraq war in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 as rock-solid in their convictions as Dick Cheney was in his, history would have been changed. Had Democrats had fighters against torture as aggressive as Dick Cheney was for torture, torture would have never begun or ended long ago. Had Democrats had fighters against massive eavesdropping as rock-hard and strong as Cheney was for eavesdropping, the Founding Fathers would have thanked Democrats from heaven.

For Democrats, most of us disagreed with and intensely disliked almost everything that Dick Cheney did. But one lesson of Washington is that if one side fights hard and unyieldingly and plays to win, and the other side does not, the side that fights hard will always defeat the side that fails to fight. This is a lesson Barack Obama should keep in mind every hour of his presidency, and will remember to his great advantage, and forget to his, and our, great peril.

Say what you want about Dick Cheney, and I have had much to say in the last eight years, but as the curtain closes on the Cheney years, I say this:

On the matter of fighting for one's beliefs, the Democrats could use a few Dick Cheneys.