Dick Cheney is doing a fine job exhibiting chutzpah to Gentiles.
Given the former vice president’s dismal prognostication history, it would’ve seemed a slam dunk that once he slunk into private life his public utterances might’ve been few. Instead, he’s turned his dismal tenure into a sort of victory lap.
Amazingly, Cheney may’ve edged out Henry Kissinger as the man many Americans consider our nation’s main war criminal. For multitudes of a past era, Kissinger retains bloody hands. However, the blood on Cheney’s is fresher, and of this time.
(An aside. My previous employer once did a job for the former Secretary of State. Somehow Bray, my paymistress’ boyfriend, snapped a photo of Henry the K. In the candid he looks grumpy. Like he’d just been informed of a one-way ticket to the Hague.)
Back when America still believed it dominated the world, Cheney and his pirates, uh, reactionaries, perverted a righteous cause for their own. The September 11th attacks galvanized the United States in a way unseen since Pearl Harbor.
Cheney and his gang exploited our anger.
The attack so clarified the nation’s resolve that even George W. Bush, America’s fraudulently elected 43rd president, actually became our leader momentarily. That’s what populaces under stress do – coalesce around their leaders.
Unfortunately in Bush, Americans and Western society didn’t get a weakling turned resolute through travail. No Prince Hal into Henry V for us. We truly suffered because his Falstaff was a Wyoming version of Cardinal Richelieu. And both the puppet and puppet master created an unnecessary breech the old now quite discredited gang insists we once more hurl ourselves.
We’ve tumbled from the heights of Shakespearian grandeur into fatal door-slamming farce in less than a decade. Left to Cheney and his ilk, the valiant would become farceurs.
What’s particularly galling about Cheney’s demand that we double down on our failed past by revisiting it is his utter lack of shame. Considering the untold number of lives sacrificed for his vainglory, egregious vainglory at that, one could’ve presumed at least a modicum of humility.
Robert McNamara, one of main chefs who cooked up our Vietnam stew, recognized and confessed his folly. And on this centenary of the Great War, Winston Churchill, long before he became “Winston Churchill,” offered himself up and paid penance for the disastrous Gallipoli campaign. Churchill, the man who sat behind a desk where the buck stopped, descended into World War I trenches in order to atone for his mistakes.
He did so leaving his fate to chance, same as the troops his decisions committed to maiming and death. And while Churchill had served England during the Boer War, that gallant was a much younger, callow man. Surely his outlook settled and sharpened between the Victorian Era’s daring do and the mature weight of Georgian responsibility.
Antique literature is replete with odes to youths who’ve died glorious deaths. Better for us all those who endured trench warfare left poetry and prose intended to disabuse us of early eternity.
If only more of us had ever recited their lines.
Isn’t acknowledging heroism more grudging when life is snatched from a fuller-lived casualty? There is tragedy; then there is waste.
Did being in the line of fire make Churchill a better man? Impossible to state. It certainly lent him a wider view of how commands are translated and reverberate. Yet once World War II erupted, who doubts his experiences further steeled his phrasing?
Before Churchill talked the talk, he walked the walk. Cheney and most of his strident band cannot offer the anywhere near the same claim.
Left to them, the West never would’ve departed Iraq. American forces would’ve remained mired in Mesopotamia accumulating more and more unnecessary deaths. Naturally when you’re so steeped, and the original cause has been proven false, and those who’ve promoted it to the hilt have their backs against the most implacable of facts and intractable of walls, admission of error becomes an impossible feat.
Especially for the weak and cowardly.
Had any been available, Churchill never would’ve sought deferment from service. Finding the cause just, he served. Unlike Cheney and the rest of the hold-your-coat brigade, an in his prime Churchill also never would’ve goaded others into fighting for causes which he himself professed deepest belief while strenuously seeking absence from the same conflict.
It was insulting watching and listening to the more bellicose Bush Administration members (and its coterie of running dog lackeys on Fox News) hoping to come across as resolute, or if preferred “Churchillian,” though all the while knowing when it was their hour to hoist the standard they instead gladly handed it off. It further insulted watching and listening knowing the main target inveighed against had nothing to do with the attacks; nor possessed any weapons which could’ve imbalanced regional power.
It was criminal hearing actions to be committed in our names only had to do with the narrowest of vendettas, none of them on our behalf.
But the thing is done. The people are dead. Have we absorbed the lesson?
Cheney on the barking head trail isn’t an attempt to revise his calamitous past, but a reemphasis of what previously failed. Such unrepentance should be the basis of a staged drama. A meaningful hour or so with strophe and antistrophe. It’s so fantastic the theme never occurred to the ancient Greeks. One where hubris does not lead to the protagonist’s enlightenment. Indeed, in Cheney’s play the protagonist becomes his own nemesis. As has Cheney, who’s also become utterly shameless.
During an interview conducted by some lapdog, Cheney somehow alluded to last century’s Clinton follies. The Clinton Years: peace, prosperity, and salacious entertainment. Strange how in American history the first two produce the third. Don’t believe it? Compare 1993-2001 and its aftermath with the Gilded and Jazz Ages and what follows both. Evelyn Nesbit and Fatty Arbuckle can serve as docents.
Somehow Dick Cheney inferred the 42nd president’s peccadillos injured the country with more desultory effects than manipulating an election which installed an empty-headed, irresponsible boob, a manchild whose malleability and insecurities allowed vital United States interests to be misaligned into misguided revenge which created enormous windfalls for corporate America through the sacrifice of quality people.
Hmmm. In hindsight, wouldn’t most of us have preferred Bill Clinton’s infidelities to phony Oval Office pieties which led to squandering American lives and treasure as well as earning the lingering enmity of Middle Eastern Muslims?
Menacing as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria forces may eventually be to the West, the hordes comprising them are our creation. In this Frankenstein the creature also has the torches and pitchforks. Wonderful.
In his blind rampaging way, Cheney touched upon a lousy American attribute. Our society extracts far greater enjoyment from pain and destruction than sex. We reflect our perversion.
Do we even notice the mindless violence washing across our screens? Haven’t gunshots and eviscerations replaced hot hogs and apple pie in our national hagiography? Do the slaughters and butchering crowding our entertainments even register anymore? Why does the American public bother expressing sound bite shock after some armed for bear gunsel fills a movie theater, mall, school with gunsmoke?
We’ve given these miscreants permission. It’s all right. Otherwise why would it be endlessly repeated unfiltered on our continuous diversions?
Yet people who’ve engaged in harmless mutual pleasures somehow arouse louder furor than indiscriminate bullets and bombs. Afternoon Delight as existential threat to the nation! That we’ve accepted wanton violence as a worthy attribute while disdaining natural human relations as perverse diminishes us.
That Dick Cheney can still show his face without being pilloried then imply intimacies between consenting adults are worse than war for specious reasons tars us all. His being able to roam among decent society shames anyone who still believes in disgrace.