This week the President of Iran was strutting around his nation's main uranium enrichment facility, claiming installation of 6,000 new centrifuges in addition to the existing 3,000 there--an ill-advised nose-thumbing gesture in the direction of the US and Israel.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a chronic sufferer from the need for attention on the world stage, who has been in remission since his visit to the UN last fall. With this latest turn for the TV cameras, he is showing symptoms of an acute and, for his regime, possibly life-threatening new outbreak.
Dick Cheney immediately made the diagnosis on right-wing talk radio. The Iranian President, he told Sean Hannity, is "a very dangerous man" who "has repeatedly stated that he wants to destroy Israel" and believes that "the highest honor that can befall a man is that he should die a martyr in facilitating the return of the 12th Imam. It's a radical, radical point of view."
Dr. Cheney's cure would involve surgery, military action against Iran before the end of the year, a treatment thus far successfully opposed by Bush's Secretaries of Defense and State, who favor sanctions and diplomatic pressure.
But Ahmadinejad's antics are encouraging Cheney's Neo-Cons, who take heart from William Kristol's report of his Bush interview this week suggesting the President hinted that military action against Iran was "not out of the question."
Before his earthly departure, Saddam Hussein admitted that he refused to stop bluffing about WMDs to maintain a strategic advantage against Iran. If his former antagonist is now following that course, as he well may be, he is a slow learner.
But one thing is clear: On the subject of lethal madness, Cheney and Ahmadinejad are soulmates at heart.