You’d think that even Dick Cheney would have the decency to return from the dead as something other than Dick Cheney. But decency was always irrelevant to Cheney, and he keeps coming back just the way he went out — a testy, self-serving, snarly-lipped, ruthless, power-crazed, nasty, deeply dishonest reptile.
But let’s not forget that Cheney is, like his longtime pal, mentor, and sometime colleague, Donald Rumsfeld, a true patriot. Cheney always put his country first, except in those instances where it was necessary to put Cheney first. This sense of the relative importance of things he learned from Donny the Rassler back in the Gerald Ford years when the two pilgrims ran amok in the White House.
Ah, those were the days, with Donny pulling the strings as chief of staff and Lil Dick, as his assistant, aiding and abetting to beat the band. Rosenkranz and Guildenstern in Brooks Bros. suits. Patriotic fervor required them to thwart the unwelcome presidential aspirations of then Vice President Nelson Rockefeller and, incidentally, open the way for Donny’s own presidential ambitions.
They also felt a strong patriotic need to marginalize that tiresome bore with the accent, Henry Kizzzinger. Rockefeller, who couldn’t chew gum and carry his own ego at the same time, was an easy mark but Kissinger proved resistant to the many poisons they put in his food.
Eventually, Rumsfeld became Ford’s Secretary of Defense and the furtive Cheney slithered into the vacated chief of staff’s chair with hardly a twitch of his tail. This is all ancient history now, but these on-the-job training experiences would serve them well 25 years later when they were tapped for high duty by Him Who Couldn’t Possibly Be As Dumb As He Seems. But he was, he was a dumb as he seemed, and before you could say, What the f…?, Rumbunny and Twisty Lip were more or less running the country. Into the ground.
But, oh my! Didn’t they have a time of it? For sheer mischief these two set a new standard. They were the Tom and Huck of twenty-first century international politics, but without the fun. For a couple of cut-ups with designs on history, the Two Bozos enjoyed incredibly good fortune…
Hardly had they arranged the family photographs on their big credenzas, when the opportunity of two lifetimes presented itself. Wooly-faced Bin Laden unleashed his murderous acolytes and in a few fiery minutes three thousand Americans were dead and the two biggest buildings in New York City ceased to exist.
Way to go, Osama! Talk about Heaven-sent. This was the answer to a pilgrim’s prayer. As any high-achieving mischief-maker knows, there is only one really foolproof way to make a lasting mark and have a hell of a good time making it. War. Of course, Americans hate war. That’s why we start so many—to remind ourselves how horrid it is. Yet it’s not always easy to sell a war to the public; you need a good reason, or the appearance of one. You need something like 9/11.
Yes, 9/11 furnished the perfect incentive. Now, all that was needed was an adversary. A worthy adversary is crucial in war-mongering. Preferably a country where the people wear funny clothes, speak an impossible tongue, and don’t have much of an army. A place full of odd-looking people and a leader with good bad-guy credentials. A place like, say, Iraq.
Donny said we would need only a streamlined force to get the job done and Cheney told us the Iraqis would greet our troops with bouquets. In no time at all Dubya chimed in and declared “Mission accomplished.” Saddam got caught in his hidey-hole and there wasn’t much left to do in Iraq but hang around and get killed.
Some churlish traitors have suggested that the Iraq war has not lessened the terrorist threat to the U.S. by even the tiniest measure, but these complaints invariably came from lefty whiners trying to sharpen their ideological axes. It does now appear that the Terrific Trio knew perfectly well there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and there was no connection between that country and 9/11, but so what? We won the war, didn’t we? Sort of?
Meanwhile we snuffed out the terrorist threat by snatching bearded guys from all over and putting them in Guantanamo. After we held their heads under water — which is not torture, by the way, the Attorney General said so — they all confessed and gave us lots of useful info.
That’s pretty much the way things stood when the upstart from Chicago talked his way into the White House. Rummy was by then telling the true story on the lecture circuit. Cheney came to the inauguration in a wheelchair and it was assumed that his heart would stop beating at any minute.
And then — there he was again, smelling of the grave but just as snarky as ever, giving interviews in which he extolled the virtues of torture, or as he calls it, “the program.” It was information gleaned from the program that kept the terrorists at bay, and the smart-aleck from Chicago was putting the country in jeopardy by putting a stop to it. Cheney speaks with unimpeachable authority because he’s dead. Sort of.