Thursday, January 15

Let Us Now Apologize To Dick Cheney

Pattern from recreation of the Harry Whittington shooting. The discrepancy 
between the target's wounds and Whittington's still baffle ballistic scientists 
when they're sober.

I HAVE a confession to make, which is another way I'm pretty much the opposite of Dick Cheney: I've never found him the slightest bit interesting, and I don't now that I've roped myself into writing about him. This is not the expression of my own taste or an assessment of Cheney's personal style. I don't get any way that he's interesting. He's done some things which people who're predisposed to disliking him anyway find outrageous, like being the only sitting Vice-President to shoot a man with an $11,000 Italian shotgun, while drunk, on a canned hunt, for pen-raised birds; he moved, almost immediately upon taking office, to auction the prerogatives of the President to the highest-bidding Energy sector (this last is, probably, unfair, since there's no way they'd pay for what they could already have for free; one can hardly suppose that as head of the National Energy Policy Development Group he was threatening to go Green unless his price was met. His role has no doubt been more in the line of keeping the sluice gates open and taking periodic quality samples of the cash flow). He was, and is, a thug and a fixer for the old Goldwater Western interests, which is how he came to be in the right spot to take advantage of the power vacuum that existed in the candidacy of the annointed, but yet un-nominated George W. Bush, namely the one between his ears. This is Luck, pure and simple, and pure luck is never interesting except as a moment's diversion, maybe.  How he came to be in position might be a decent tale to scare young children with, but Cheney seems nothing more than the sort of cheap goon known to professional hockey, the guy who isn't known for the sharp check on the boards, or even the flashing stick, but the eagerness to slip in a kidney punch or two when he thinks the refs aren't watching.

And those kinda guys don't make it to the Hall. What's Cheney? Not a thinker; a reliable rubber-stamp for the most crackpot, paranoid tendencies to actually make it inside the US government without wearing stars and an Air Force uniform. Or perhaps short of that, perhaps not; it may simply have been his bad luck to be born too late to be an effective advocate for Armageddon. This is impressive? His government work was founded on his ability to convince roughly 1100 of our fellow citizens to send him to Washington; he eventually maneuvered himself into the Executive Branch *, where he became the driving force behind the worst decisions in modern American political history, apparently in no small part because some people were impressed, or astonished, that he could do so while sounding absolutely convinced of his own inerrancy. And not just that, but behind the worst decisions which couldn't be retracted or modified, on the grounds that failure only occurs when one admits failure. This did not make him our most philosophically reflective Vice President, but our most epistemologically deranged one.

I happen to be old enough--this was not necessarily to the good--that I realized fully what Dick Cheney, Vice President, President of the Senate, and Law West of the Pecos could mean, because I'd seen him in action in the Congress. Cheney, Alan Simpson, Phil Gramm, and Dick Armey were like the Four Stumps of the Goldwater West, with Steve Symms as their cousin who was dropped on his head in infancy. All had sinecured Republican seats (Gramm after he joined in the trendy Dixiecrat-GOP conversion), all owed their political, if not their personal, personas to the anti-civil rights, pro-Lawn Order, Get-a-Haircut, Hippie, Sixties backlash, filtered through Nixon (Armey joined up during the Reagan administration), and all gained prominence thanks in large measure to the Sorry We're Liberal, Here's a Free Pass to Say Whatever Crackpot Thing You Like Without Being Fact-Checked Post-Nixon Press, and the resultant Reagan Revolution. All could be counted on to vote against civil rights, legislative oversight, the regulation of commerce, and, for that matter, delicious soup, provided the Western money interests were agin' it. And all managed to avoid Vietnam--Simpson, who is sometimes exempted from the group on the grounds that a) he has something approaching a sense of humor; b) he demonstrated a willingness to try to sound semi-reasonable back when that was required of a teevee pundit; and c) he holds a couple of libertarian civil-rights ideas, à la Bill Buckley, though we suggest this would rather be something to potentially disqualify him from the other side, than patch things over from this, served in the Army in 1950s. Or when Rumsfeld was a flyboy.

And Cheney was the worst of the friggin' lot: Gramm without the charm. He combined bile, bilge and bullshit in a way that transcended all three, but certainly not by dint of intellect, turn of phrase, or novelty of approach. Here's the Cheney page at BrainyQuote, for example; find something he's said that isn't notable merely for being self-aggrandizing, breathtakingly wrong, gratuitously ugly, or all three. Find one.

He's not interesting. Even as a paragon of evil he's not interesting. Were we to take the time right now to lay out the case that the Iraq war followed the blueprint of Vietnam, as re-written in the 1970s and 80s by the American Right, if we were to argue that it, in fact, represented the Grail of American hegemony sought by military pinheads like Cheney ever since--maybe for "Grail" we could substitute "John Wayne Bobbit's Severed Penis"--we would yet have to note that Cheney stands almost alone: he seems to be the only person at whatever end of the political spectrum who imagines that Vietnam went just fine, aside from our pulling out and coming home. He will, of course, flip the common coin of the Right that The Media aided The Dirty Hippies in bringing the enterprise down, but he seems, at bottom, to be perfectly content with ongoing disaster, so long as it's his own. Keep up the fucking bombing; whether it works or not seems not to be his area of focus. Consider that whole "Fourth branch of government" schtick. Did it even sound like he was making an argument? It sounded like a chain email snopes had already debunked.  I can't even figure out why he bothered to say anything at all. And while it's true that this sort of ill-tempered rejection of Reason Herself plays well on the Right, he didn't even seem to bother with playing it to them; more like he knew useful idiots like Glenn Reynolds would step up to the plate no matter what was being flung at 'em. Mr. Supreme Self-Assurance could be relied upon to do one thing in public, back before the '06 mid-terms mercifully hid him away from us for good: whenever one of his Big Ideas was in trouble he'd come out a lie through his teeth about it. The man is the antidote to panache.

Yes, yes, yes; there are dirty unmentionable deeds in Cheney's dossier; there may not be much else. Yes, he's got a man-sized safe, yes, he outed an undercover CIA agent for political purposes (for tiny fucking political purposes, at that; to prevent the public from figuring out Operation Shifting Rationale was a series of lies? Really, who did you think was missing that?); he's probably got a suitcase full of the greenbacks Paul Bremer misplaced. He's a noisome slug whose main positive accomplishments--cowering Congressional Democrats and co-opting Tim Russert--could have been accomplished by anyone, and by fax, and who gained the standing to do so, not because anyone outside Wyoming ever voted for him, but because he took advantage of the Bush Crime Family's need, in the first case, for a Western fixer, and, in the second, for a full-time driving instructor. Big whup. Just so he clears out by Monday and stays where a subpoena can find him, and just so he keeps cleaning his own guns.
* You don't really need that explained, do you?


J said...

The Common Folk of America cajole:
"He's a noisome slug whose main positive accomplishments--cowering Congressional Democrats and co-opting Tim Russert--could have been accomplished by anyone..." You mean "cowing," we think.

beautiful vitriol, as always...

Anonymous said...

I dunno...maybe I'm just a sicko at heart, but somehow when someone/something rises to this level of truly horrifying, I might argue that the person/thing along with whole phenomenon that brought him/it to pass has something of a compelling (also creepy and vile) vibe to it. Cue train wreck metaphor here.

--Captain Goto

Kathy said...

I'm hoping someone in the Passport Dept. rescinds his passport, or puts him on the "NO FLY: Just Torture" list.

A really horrifying thing is that his wife is Just As Bad, only stupider.

Uncle Omar said...

This one reminds me of a book I read many years ago by Carl Oglesby called, I think, "The Cowboy and Yankee War." If I remember it correctly it was Oglesby's thesis that the JFK shooting was planned by the Cowboys in order to put one of theirs-an unknowing one-into the presidency so they could eventually take over the gummint and save whatever is good and holy about the West. Free dams, no oversight of oil production, a free pass into the Treasury, that sort of thing. It took them 37 years, but they pulled it off. Then they screwed the pooch until Phideaux screeched in horror and refused to ride in the back of their pickup trucks anymore. All that planning and conspiring and Cheney is all they could come up with. Tsk, tsk.

yellojkt said...

"Gramm without the charm" is about as damning an indictment I have ever heard of the man. You are vicious wordsmith.

locksmith mesa said...

Great post!


Anonymous said...

Since he will remain untouched by any legal action, I suppose that the best we can hope for is that Cheney is back in Wyoming when the Yellowstone volcano blows and turns the state into a crater lake.

The hole will give him a good start on his Eternal home, where Lucifer no doubt has a great career opportunity just waiting for him (Look out Belzebub, Cheney's back in town!)

-- LittlePig

Scott C. said...

The man is the antidote to panache.

Speaking of things which need to be in Bartlett's...

The hole will give him a good start on his Eternal home, where Lucifer no doubt has a great career opportunity just waiting for him

Cheney will probably argue -- successfuly -- that as the nation's most venal vice president, he is not a part of perdition (and therefore not subject to Satan's executive orders) but occupies a separate and co-equal branch of Hell.

Veritas78 said...

Why has no one ever asked him, "If Vietnam was such a great fucking idea, why did you scramble for five deferments to get out of it? Why should others die for you?"

When they finally required fatherhood for a deferment, he fucked Lynn for three days straight, and exactly nine months later out popped Elizabeth Cheney, who owes her existence to her father's desperate cowardice.

Thanks for this, Riley.

Joyful Alternative said...

Were it not for the Vietnam War, Cheney would now be a retired utility company lineman. After flunking out of the Ivy Lynn got him into, only the draft could have motivated him to enroll at State.