The solipsism of Dick Cheney

I apologize for being absent so long. I have a job that eats up most of my time, and then there’s a freewheeling World Cup that’s amazing and brilliant. But there are also other things.

There is a former vice president who crawls out of his taxpayer subsidized transplant-ward hospital bed to remind us how trivial human life is. Other human life.

“I think we did what we had to do,” Cheney added, saying he is still not convinced Iraq didn’t have weapons of mass destruction before the 2003 invasion. “And you don’t get to go back and say, well, we would have — what if we’d ignored all the intelligence?”

If he’d ignored his own cooked-up intelligence there’d be 4,500 ghosts incarnate watching the Americans take it to Belgium on Tuesday afternoon. I’m not scared of the possibility, I welcome them all. But it’ll never happen of course. The prospect would require an apology from Dick Cheney and a time machine, and the former, as we all know, is a complete fiction. Even if he could go back, there’d be little point in it while there are still so many Americans to be burned on the bonfire of his endless desires.

“The Rand Corporation just recently published a study that shows there’s been a 58 percent increase in the number of al Qaeda-type terrorist groups in the last four years. Fifty-eight percent! Doubling the number of terrorists roughly, and they’re spreading out from West Africa all across North Africa to East Africa, up through the Middle East, all the way around to Indonesia…”

“Are you indicating that we could be on track for something worse than 9/11?” [Hasslebeck] asked…

“You know, I can’t say at this point specifically when something like that might happen. But it would be foolish of us to ignore the extent to which there are people who — terrorist-sponsoring states who have in fact tried to provide nuclear technology.”

Summer rerun. They’ll shove an atom bomb up your ass or I’m not Dick Cheney. This man has stared his own death in the face, has watched thousands die in Iraq, has been acutely aware that he’s responsible for the slaughter, and hasn’t been moved by any of it. Dick sleeps like a baby.

Which brings me to a Charles Pierce piece. He decries the rising tide of cruelty in our country, particularly as it seeps into our politics.

It does not have to be this way. After the greatest exercise of systematized cruelty in the country’s history, Abraham Lincoln gave the greatest speech ever given by an American president, and in its greatest passage, he called hold, enough.

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Lincoln’s second inaugural struck me. But not in the usual way, as I paid new attention to this part: “…with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right…” Lincoln tells us about managing to make good decisions: We have “to see the right.” It’s something that must be understood before it can be done. Given a complex situation the best choice isn’t the immediate impulse that comes from your gut, to be defended at all costs. Choosing right over wrong is something that needs to be worked at.

This is what Dick Cheney rejects. He is right before he can know the first thing. He is right when he invades Iraq. He is right at the same time all his predictions about the war are wrong. He is right while Americans there by the thousands are being killed. Now we’re out of Iraq and he’s right to demand we send soldiers back in, regardless of how predictably they’ll suffer and die. Right and wrong do not exist outside of Dick Cheney, and these things never will.

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