David B.




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February 22, 2006
Cheney's Murderous Slapstick

Dick Cheney is a lucky, lucky man. The last three-and-a-half decades have been extraordinarily kind to this snarling, paranoiac caricature from Wyoming, enabling him to attain levels of wealth and power that would seem at first glance to be beyond the reach of your average ogre. Even when circumstances would have seemed poised to defeat him, at juncture after juncture the crafty Cheney managed to either find or create fertile soil in which to fester, beating the odds and leaving his opposition to gape in wonder at his survival skills.


Take Vietnam, for example. While tens of thousands of young men of his age marched off to die in the swamps of Southeast Asia, Cheney's "other priorities" somehow enabled him to remain comfortably at home courtesy of five successive deferments, all the better to cozy up to his idol - Richard Milhous Nixon.


And when Nixon's fascistic house of cards crumbled all around him, who was deftly able to step out of the way but Dick Cheney. Onward to Congress. Onward to the first Bush administration. And in a coup to end all coups, when chosen to assist George W. Bush in the selection of a vice presidential candidate, Cheney succeeded in choosing himself, thus positioning himself perfectly to fatten his oilfield pals' wallets and launch filthy little wars. The Cheney saga is Horatio Alger on steroids, the tale of a small-town boy risen not only to the heights of success, but to the status of demi-fuhrer.


Never one to let petty concerns like constitutionality, humanity or legality hold him back, Richard Cheney has made doing what Richard Cheney wants a lifestyle. When Dick wants to give away America's natural resources gratis to oil companies as a matter of energy policy, he does so. When Dick wants a war in the Middle East, he starts one. When Dick wants to spy wholesale on American citizens, he makes it happen. Membership, as they say, has its privileges. And when Dick Cheney wants to go hunting...


So what does one make of the furor surrounding Cheney blasting one of his fellow hunters in the face with a shotgun? Well, if you're a standup comic or a television pundit, quite a lot. It is funny - the idea of a sitting vice president shooting another individual while attempting to kill a small, defenseless bird contains the same characteristics of combined improbability and insanity that fueled the careers of Monty Python, the Three Stooges and the Marx Brothers. And as with the best humor, the mirth contains a germ of essential truth, a revealing insight, a telling detail.


Forget for the moment that Dick Cheney shot another human being. Rewind just a bit to the moments before Cheney "peppered" Harry Whittington to within an inch of his life, and consider the basic scenario. Dick Cheney, vice president of the United States and the second most powerful man in the world, is on a mini-vacation in Texas with a woman not his wife. Hunting.


Meanwhile, several thousand miles away, over 100,000 of his fellow Americans are sweltering in the heat of Iraq, fighting a hopeless battle against a growing insurgency. As Dick Cheney's eyes scan the horizon for fluttering wings, soldiers watch for snipers, suicide bombers and RPGs.


Of course, the soldiers have no idea where the next bullet or grenade may come from. Iraq is a wild, unpredictable landscape, filled with hidden dangers. Not so southeast Texas. Per the usual, Dick Cheney, the great outdoorsman, has maximized his chances for success. Why put up with unnecessary randomness in hunting? Deadeye Dick's out to shoot farm-raised quail. The sort of quail which, nurtured in a pen for their entire lives before being set free to be shot at, will instinctively move towards the hunters, thinking they're about to be fed.


At the same instant that thousands of the troops he has dispatched to the Middle East are sucking in depleted uranium dust and fighting for their survival, Dick Cheney is using his $20,000 shotgun to blast five-ounce farm-raised birds out of the sky, which his minions will collect, clean and cook for him. While others kill to survive, Dick kills for kicks. Rome burns as Nero fiddles. Ah, the irony. Funny, no?


But wait: There's more. Evidently outwitted by the farm-fed fowl, the great outdoorsman manages to blast one of his hunting buddies instead. It's a scene stolen straight from Larry, Moe and Curly. And as Harry Whittington headed for the intensive care unit, Dick Cheney headed off to dinner, presumably of fresh farm-fed quail. And when White House spokesman Scott McClellan was asked by a reporter whether the vice president might resign, he dismissed the question as "absurd."  Perhaps about as absurd as the second most powerful man in the world getting his thrills by killing tame animals while young men and women die in the war he sent them to, the sort of war that he himself was too cowardly to fight.


Ain't that a knee-slapper?


2006 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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