Is Dick Cheney running for president in 2012? Don't start building that reinforced-concrete bomb shelter just yet -- it's probably not serious. But that hasn't stopped a handful of coy conservative columnists from floating the idea. As Cheney enjoys another Obama-era resurgence on the national stage, don't expect this to be the last you'll hear of it.

  • Ross Douthat: Cheney for President  "It’s been hard to escape the impression that both the Republican Party and the country would be better off today if Cheney, rather than John McCain, had been a candidate for president in 2008," Douthat wrote in April for his first-ever New York Times column. Of course, Douthat wasn't serious. He pegged Cheney to "the sort of conservatism that’s ascendant in today’s much-reduced Republican Party" and argued a Cheney candidacy "would have been an instructive test of its political viability." So, really, he was arguing against a Cheney presidency, but that didn't stop other pundits from heatedly debating a possible Cheney run.
  • Jonah Goldberg: Beacon for Conservatives  That's what Goldberg called Cheney back in May when he first came out swinging against Obama on national security. "On almost every issue he has championed since he left office, Cheney has won the debate or at least put the White House on the defensive," he wrote.
  • Peter Roff: Republicans Have No One Else  US News' Roff asked in June of Cheney's "sudden re-emergence" in the media, "Could it be that he is testing the waters for a 2012 run for the Republican presidential nomination?" Roff called it an "intriguing prospect," citing Cheney's "impressive record of experience" and his record of governing "more or less successfully" (oh?). He concluded, "Cheney would unify and perhaps re-energize the Reagan coalition in ways that few if any of the potential GOP candidates could."
  • James Taranto: Cheney for President  Taranto advocated for Cheney 2012 in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. "It stands to reason that the Obama administrations' policies may be endangering us now," Taranto suggested, speculating on another terrorist attack. "As inconceivable as it may seem today, the 2012 election may end up turning on national security," he wrote. "Republicans would be wise to nominate someone with both toughness and experience. Under such circumstances, it's hard to think of a better candidate--assuming, of course, that he could be persuaded to run--than Richard B. Cheney."
  • Americans: We're Not So Crazy About That  Polls have shown that these conservative columnists may not exactly be at the vanguard of popular opinion. An April poll from the week of Douthat's column had him at 33% favorable and 54% unfavorable. In June, during Cheney's second big resurgence, an NBC-WSJ poll put him at 26% favorable versus 48% unfavorable; a Fox News poll had 34% favorable and 57% unfavorable. So, not great.
  • Republican Voters: Lukewarm on Cheney  Meanwhile, a July Rasmussen poll of "likely Republican primary voters" (which, recall, is a small pool) favored Cheney at 59%, with 34% unfavorable. That's better, to be sure, but Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee all outperformed Cheney in the same poll. Only Haley Barbour had a higher unfavorable rating.