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Snarling Power

Cheney Unplugged

by MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE

I’ve said it often, written it: “How do they sleep at night?” Seriously, I’m sure I posed the question in plenty of articles during the Cheney-Bush reign and then after Barack Obama took the oath. How incredibly naïve I was.

After a year of “seeing” a sociopath, a man who charmed and lied his way into and through my life, I now know that those who lack empathy sleep just fine—unless they’re worried about their own interests. Totally self-focused, they have an insatiable need for attention. Conversations that veer away from them, towards anyone or anything else, must be redirected back to the center of the universe—the sociopath. For them, it’s “me, me, me, me, me.”

Consider Dick Cheney. Wherever he went, his mobile hospital followed. He must’ve loved all that assistance, service, sustenance. I can recall examples like this about my personality disordered “friend”. The time he slipped, fell, and cut his chin. The stitches. You’d have thought he’d survived a shark attack. Then when he got that bee sting, went into anaphylactic shock, and drove himself to the hospital, just in time. He loved talking about his troubles, his health, texting to report his blood glucose level most mornings. Whoa, it just occurred to me that these illustrations might have been fabrications. The man is incapable of honesty.

But back to Cheney, the architect of the War of Terror, enhanced interrogation (such an inventive euphemism), and NSA wiretapping—he’s been in the news this week. I admit to feeling a little satisfaction in knowing Cheney didn’t sleep well for a while in 2007. When he had the realization that someone, a “terrorist” perhaps might possibly tinker with his ticker. Might use a remote-control gadget on the defibrillator implanted in his chest, the little computer capable of shocking his cold, faltering heart to its proper rhythm if necessary. Yes, Cheney was aware that someone could reprogram the device, zap him. He’d seen it on TV, an episode of Homeland. It makes sense that he was frightened. Understanding that this could be executed and why are not incompatible with an appreciation of and enthusiasm for torture, Cheney’s specialty—hypothermia, stress positions, waterboarding. “I signed off on it,” he’d said, about the “alternative set of procedures”—another euphemism.

Imagine the perspiration. Imagine the furtive glances, the hand, reaching up to pat the flaccid flesh concealing the apparatus. Could he trust anyone? Even his entourage? He’d shot Harry Whittington, an attorney who accompanied him on a quail hunt, for god’s sake. So many enemies, even in red states.

Cheney made a decision—to have the wireless feature disabled. Of course, this was risky. The wireless feature has a function. It alerts the doctor that something’s wrong, broken.

The probability of a security breach was blaring red though. I’m sure Cheney could feel it, like a thunderclap headache. He opted to disable the wireless, a decision the ordinary, well-liked individual never would have to make. Cheney wasn’t Mr. Popularity. Hell-bent on basking in his legacy of carnage, he HAD to eliminate the risk of a terror attack on his defibrillator. It was “me, me, me, the neocons/Zionists need me.” He’d profited handsomely from war and knew he’d be at the top of the heart transplant list with the snap of a threat. Color would return to his cheeks. He’d be himself again, snarling power. And he’d use this power to criticize Obama’s presidency even though he knew it would align with his/Bush’s. Eventually, he’d praise Obama for his drone program, one sociopath giving a nod to another.

Missy Comley Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Baltimore. Email: missybeat@gmail.com.