Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cheney: Where are the redeeming virtues?

BACK WHEN I was a young police reporter (Way back!) who was dispatched to cover horrific traffic accidents and train wrecks, there were always knots of early-arriving onlookers staring at the mess with a certain fascination in the twisted rubble before their eyes. Not a pretty sight. It is the sort of dark curiosity that is doubtless leading the TV news hustlers to haul up Dick Cheney to the cameras every day as a Quasimodo figure without the loving heart. A spellbinding sight, if you like that sort of thing, of a pathetically bitter man who should be spending more time tending to his meds.

Since he left office more than a year ago, Cheney simply hasn't shut up, twisting and turning fact into fiction to anyone with the grit to listen. (Contrast that to Al Gore, who won the popular vote but was denied the Oval Office by the heavily partisan Supreme Court! Instead of acrimony, Gore turned with grace to his work on the environment. )

If you were unfortunate enough to bump into the ex-veep at a party, Cheney's first words would be that Obama is a weak-kneed screw-up who will be responsible for the next terrorist attack on America. He says it so often that you have to wonder whether he wants it to happen sooner than later to prove his transcendent knowledge of the unknown while he is still alive to claim bloody credit. But while his attacks on Obama appear to be less about the welfare of the nation than his personal enmity toward the president, there may be something else festering in what's left of his soul. It may be his overwhelming fear that his legacy will continue to be sullied as it already has been in Jane Mayer's best-seller, The Dark Side, a remarkable account of how he personally and vengefully took control of the Bush Administration's War on Terror. In so doing he became a white-collar terrorist himself, inventing the rules as his schemes grew well out of sight of the public.

There are ongoing attempts to bring Cheney to account, but so far he remains standing, or at least hunched in front of a TV camera with no redeeming virtues.

What a specimen of public service gone awry! When Darwin spent all of his time with the finches on Galapagos, he failed to isolate another species that eventually morphed into Richard Cheney.

Maybe it would alert the TV crowd to the downside of the menacing spectacle they are offering to the viewers every day.

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