Last Saturday, between 7:44 and 9:24 in the morning, Dick Cheney was officially in charge of the country.
Now, for a lot of people, the only news here is the “officially” finally got tacked on. Cheney has always exuded something of a demented Gepetto vibe, and our brave leader, Yale graduate though he may be, has never said or done anything that would suggest he’s even remotely capable of making USA-PATRIOT into an acronym.
Those not convinced of the puppet-show took note, though, and as the transfer of power approached, some crouched diligently beneath their desks and rocked away the seconds till the missiles would start flying, while others revved their Roles Royce engine’s with anticipation, for at last, the rich white men of this country would finally have their day.
It’s a strange and not entirely flattering comment on Cheney’s character that an hour and forty minutes under his authority passing by annihilation-free is the surprise that it is. Short of nu-cu-lar winter, one expects something to happen, at least a Halliburton contract or police action, maybe a pack of irate Nazis rising from a bog somewhere. But no. It was an entirely uneventful morning.
The president’s routine colonoscopy having not caused the end of the world, resident conservatives in office betting pools across the country will surely be flaunting their winnings for weeks to come, now finally able to afford those pro-life, “Hang’em High” vanity mud-flaps (much to the chagrin of their liberal co-workers, who will now have to wait to get their fair-trade hemp t-shirts to support the Organization for Gluten-Free Wheelchair-Bound Tibetan Single Mothers of Blind Kids for Peace).
The incident does bring notice to a peculiar way in which liberals may take the president for granted, though. For all the issues people have with Bush, for all the protest songs and charred effigies and clever picket line slogans, he has acted, throughout his presidency, as the thin prophylactic ensuring no direct contact between the nation and Dick ever occurs.
Sure, one still gets the distinct impression we’re hurdling towards (another) disaster, but Bush exudes a folksy ignorance that makes it difficult for other nations to rebuke us for our actions. So he botched the occupation of a country he invaded under false pretenses, will the UN tell him he set foreign relations back several decades and cost hundreds of thousands of people their lives?
No. I mean, people don’t go around slapping special ed kids, right? They’re going to pin that international debacle right up there on the fridge and give him a gold star for trying. Why do you think the island is named after Gilligan?
Cheney, of course, can’t carry this off. With every consideration paid to bi-partisan fairness, he may be the most blatantly evil public official to grace the social conscious since the bad guy from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (with whom he shares a disconcerting likeness). Mocking him is difficult in some ways, because humor thrives on insight, and Cheney, unlike many politicians, has no poker face. He really doesn’t care if you know he’s evil.
One doesn’t even have to broach his political track record. Just look at him. He goes around glowering all the time, has the posture of something that lives under a bridge, and talks down to just about everyone he graces with an interview. It’s hard to gauge how he treats his enemies, but when he shoots his friends in the face, one can only imagine.
Considering this is the side of himself he shows the public, what is there to say about the guy that isn’t already strikingly obvious to anyone familiar with Dr. No, Scrooge McDuck, or the basic aesthetics of a gothic doorknocker?
I don’t know, maybe some of us owe the vice-president an apology for thinking he would reduce the world to a smoldering ball last Saturday, but then, with Dick Cheney, that’s always more of a wait and see sort of thing.
Ryan Nowell is a junior English major. His column appears weekly in the summer Collegian edition. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.