Dick Cheney’s Final Sadism

Of all of Cheney’s various crimes and corrosive acts, his book may be the cruelest. Not because of its dubious authenticity. Rather, Cheney gives new leases of life to mealy-mouthed Colin Powell and the entire spineless cavalcade of our past.

Across D.C. one can’t escape General Jello’s plaintive, salad fork-like rebuttal. Again we are forced to endure the spectacle of a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and alleged warrior whining about ‘cheap shots’ — as if he’s in the NBA working refs after getting dunked on. A patent lawyer almost wholly oblivious of anything political couldn’t shut up about seeing Colin Powell on TV. Now that’s evil. Curse you again, Dick Cheney.

It’s Cheney’s misfortune that books themselves mean so little in 2011. As a cultural artifact they no longer command and monopolize the Imperial City hive mind. Not in the way say the former court reporter (in all senses of the words) Woodward’s routinely used to. Certainly not in the way Kissinger’s ghost written memoirs did. In fact, as Palin showed, a few well placed tweets command as much media spotlight. We draw comfort in our assessment because the kids at the WaPo disagree:

The difference between all these books and Cheney’s is the author. While the books listed above were often written by staffers and sometimes by political appointees, Cheney is a former Vice President of the United States. That gives his autobiography a certain amount of heft lacking from the others.

We doubt it. Not just because the WaPo is itself so enfeebled. Cheney, no matter how malefic, can not repeal the Law of Commodification. Already his book has been read, reported on. Thousands have fed its contents into the Twitter, StumbleUpon and other disposals of the modern intellect. Sliced, diced and churned. We doubt there are significant new details remaining that haven’t already been reported whether on Iraq, torture, Wilson/Plame, Rumsfeld, Afghanistan or domestic spying.

Cheney can count on the AEI/Hudson networks for a certain annuity. But his publishers want sales and Cheney clearly relishes attention. So both need Tenet, Rice, Leahy and others rise to the bait (“heads will explode”).

Thus is the full scope of Cheney’s sadism revealed. He is like the manipulator from the Saw movies. He opens a path to escape if the victims immolate themselves. Our only hope is they show the good judgment, courage and fortitude that evaded them when in office and spurn the invitation. General Jello already failed.

And for us, once again, we are forced to recall the bitter taste of pinning expectations on such a sorry bunch of self-serving mediocrities. We can in a way slightly sympathize with Cheney’s contempt for them all.

Curse you indeed, Dick Cheney.


  1. Redhand says

    Cheney is a former Vice President of the United States. That gives his autobiography a certain amount of heft lacking from the others.

    Right, just like Mein Kampf. Is that the best the Wapo could come up with for reading this war criminal’s screed? Think I’ll pass.

  2. Comment says

    Seeing Cheney’s crack-on-the-side-of-a-toilet-bowl on tv is reason to be glad cable down for a few days.

  3. jwb says

    And let me just add that I can see my own attempt to analyze and think about Obama’s actions in the first paragraph are warped by the very media narrative I mentioned in the second paragraph. In that respect it’s not simply a media problem but the properties of the general political discursive field, which makes it extremely difficult to think both within and outside the discourse.

  4. jwb says

    We knew where Obama was headed with these policies since at least June 2008, so I can’t say that anything he has done in the area has surprised me, even though it’s appalling. I don’t know his personal views on the matter, of course, but he and his team have clearly concluded that this is not an area in which they are going to take a principled stand contra the military-industrial complex and its support networks. It may be a strategic political decision; it may be what they actually believe is the best and proper course of action. But here, as in most instances, intentions hardly matter when the actual actions are not really much in dispute. At the very least, we know Obama and his administration are willing to sacrifice pretty much everything in this area for whatever other political objectives they want to pursue in other areas.

    On a slightly different tack, what’s interesting to me is that whereas Cheney’s radicalism seems completely in keeping with the (media) image of Cheney, it still runs counter to the (media) image of Obama. That suggests a political piece that, for whatever reason, does not fit into the media narrative of Obama; and that in turn says as much about the media narratives driving these stories as it does about Obama and his administration.

  5. DrLeoStrauss says

    One interesting pattern of those critical of or dismissing Cheney as a transitory apparition: they ignore how much Obama has embraced and extended his radicalism.

    Warrentless wiretaps? Pshaw. We now have a classified PATRIOT Act. Obama expanded the original law. Obama, not Cheney, explicitly authorized the assassination of Americans abroad. Obama, not Cheney, asserted Presidential authority to wage war without congressional approval.

    No one even questions the notion of “homeland’ and the HLS boondoggle. DoJ refuses to release the legal memoranda establishing surveillance on Americans and will only acknowledge 8 words out of three documents. And so on.

    And yet we are told to smirk at Cheney as yesterday’s man. So he is. And tomorrow’s, too.

  6. Biscuits says

    Cheney and co. have an endless supply of spite. When oh when will this lizard’s nonheart finally fail? It can’t come soon enough.

  7. DrLeoStrauss says

    That we are having this conversation at all, Redshift, is a subtle victory for him. You could be right. For the reasons JWB points out – to wit, we’re so far past mere deconstruction.

  8. Redshift says

    I agree that Cheney’s backstabbing is a desperate attempt to generate interest in his book, but I don’t think it’s working, basically because he is so widely viewed as evil. He’s painting himself as strong and in charge, taking credit for everything, and throwing everyone less extreme under the bus? Yawn. It would actually be more surprising if he didn’t.

    Powell’s reaction (and that of the others, if any of them are desperate enough to get on teevee that they respond) will fuel chatter for a couple of days, and it will be earnestly discussed on the Sunday shows this week, and then the whole thing will be gone.

  9. jwb says

    I find your reading persuasive in all but one respect: I believe you overestimate the power of the Palin tweetmachine. Or maybe you mean to say that nothing today can rise above the momentary and rather meager influence of a tweet, that Cheney’s book at best will only drive the conversation as a bloated 576 page tweet, that it is impossible to command the current cultural stage in anything other than the form of a tweet, whose influence quickly dissipates and must be constantly renewed. The acceleration of production (of opinion) goes hand in hand with the acceleration of obsolescence (of opinion).

    And in that context the ghostpenning of a tome begins to look like charmingly ridiculous and even irrelevant ideological gesture—though perhaps still a route to a nice retirement package if the movement groups feel obliged to support you in your dotage. In that respect, the replies are actually not needed at all for the book to be a financial success. All that is needed is that the movement groups decide that it is a book that should be bought, that a transfer payment, for whatever reason, should be made. But think about that: the book’s actual content is irrelevant; the book is not even a commodity but a simulacrum of a book whose pages may as well be filled with nonsense, as they surely are, since the material form of the book serves only to disguise the payoff.

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