Brad Delong has a good precis on how a functional political system performs quality control on its information and decision system:
(1) Loss of position, (2) loss of informal influence, (3) loss of cushy life, (4) loss of liberty, and (5) loss of life–those are the five forfeits that can be imposed on the losers in any game of high politics. Systems that impose only (1) and (2) tend to cause substantially fewer human and policy disasters than systems that impose (4) and (5).
As Khrushchev once said, of all his achievements the one that he was proudest of was that starting in his reign the losers in the game of Soviet politics were no longer shot or sent to the concentration camps–instead, they were sent off to manage some small-town factory somewhere.
This is why I want to procreate a good mischief on any Cheney family member who is running for office. They should be kept as far away from power as possible both because they are dangerous in and of themselves and more importantly as a signalling mechanisms to people who would choose to emulate Cheney.
Our national OODA loop is failing because there is minimal cost to being wrong. Hell, being wrong in the right way can be profitable and career enhancing.