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Patriotic Vice

Remember the aggressive guy in grade school and high school who snarled out of the corner of his mouth, and always egged other guys into fights but never felt knuckles on his own cheek? He’s the same guy who later got six college deferments for the draft while he advocated for the righteousness of the Vietnam War. No one liked him, no obstacle in oozing his way into political leadership – naturally, in the Republican Party. And once he achieved political power he really enjoyed, quietly of course, pushing people around.

Defense Secretary moved laterally to Honcho at Halliburton with its lavish DOD contracts. If it had been anyone else, one would have thought conflict of interest. But Patriotic Dick? Perish the thought!

As Vice President, he gloated over how his machinations had moved thousands of people to fight and die in the war he had helped concoct and then sell. What a somber expression he could wear when pushing his agenda – an unjustified war or a lying book. It’s almost like a clichéd Hollywood, the cringing coward absorbs vicarious pleasure from creating and then watching violence while convincing the public he’s a real hard guy. Where was his black hat?

As charlatan cum W. Bush’s guru, he experienced the vicarious pleasure of a Rasputin. With Darth Vader’s (Maureen Dowd’s term) hawkish magpie squeak, Cheney delivered belligerent messages in W’s ear: make war, make more war, ever more war.

Even with his seriously damaged heart (some doubted he even had one), Dick Cheney lives on in his verbally pugilistic public pose in an effort to promote his new memoir, In My Time. By insulting and attacking other famous former colleagues Cheney hopes to increase sales – knowing Colin Powell, former W. Bush Secretary of State, won’t punch him out.

Condi and Powell both accused Cheney of taking “cheap shots.” She said Cheney’s critique of her naiveté with North Korea (You can’t trust those wily reds) implied an attack “on my integrity.” (Condi also could take him, but he knows she won’t.)

Powell resented Cheney’s “disclosures” and the “cheap shots that he’s taking at me and other members of the administration who served to the best of our ability for President Bush.” (CBS’s “Face the Nation”)

A gentlemanly position for the man who assured the world at a televised appearance before the UN Security Council as to his absolute certainty that Saddam possessed WMD, which Cheney had sold to the US public and had his staff leak (false info, like buying yellow cake uranium from Africa) to journalists — another sales route.

Powell now regrets his UN performance. But Cheney still lauds the invasion and occupation of Iraq as one of W’s greatest feats.

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell’s then Chief of Staff, admitted he was “the person who put together Colin Powell’s presentation at the United Nations Security Council on 5 February, 2003.” He called it “probably the biggest mistake of my life. I regret it to this day. I regret not having resigned over it.”

Cheney, however, still insists that unlike President W. Bush, he did not have a “sickening feeling””when they discovered there were no weapons of mass destruction after the invasion of Iraq. “I think we did the right thing,” Cheney told Jamie Gangel.

Wilkerson, however, according to Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, described Cheney as “not just a political figure with controversial views, but is an actual criminal, that he was centrally involved in a whole variety not just of war crimes in Iraq, but of domestic crimes, as well, including the authorization of warrantless eavesdropping on Americans … and implementation of a worldwide torture regime.”

“Dick Cheney goes around the country profiting off of this… sleazy, sensationalistic, self-serving book, basically profiting from his crimes, and at the same time normalizing the idea that these kind of policies, though maybe in the view of some wrongheaded, are perfectly legitimate political choices to make.”

Powell had warned Bush on Iraq: “If you break it, you own it.” Powell also said: “Cheney may forget that I’m the one who said to President Bush, ‘And you have got to understand that if we have to go to war in Iraq, we have to be prepared for the whole war, not just the first phase.’ And Mr. Cheney and many of his colleagues did not prepare for what happened after the fall of Baghdad.”

Cheney implied Powell was an ingrate. After all, who got him appointed as head of the Joint Chiefs? Cheney asked Politico TV host Mike Allen. “I did.”

Did Cheney make mistakes? He admits to two DUI convictions as a student. How about his huge role in the US invading, occupying and breaking Iraq? A great personal achievement. Does he feel remorse over hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis and 5,000 US servicemen and women? None!

Dick even scoffed at the implication that a little rough interrogation and water-boarding constituted torture. US interrogators behaved in “safe, legal, and effective” ways. His “model facility” — Guantanamo  — was “humane.”

Vice as Maureen Dowd called him created the “Office of Special Plans” to create lies and distort policy about Iraq, WMD, and to connect Saddam to Al Qaeda. Even the Abu Ghraib “dark side” got his full support. Does violence bother Cheney? Only once. He regrets firing his shotgun when he mistook his friends face for a quail taking flight. An honest mistake and he admits it. What an All-American guy! Read his book (not)!

Saul Landau’s WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP plays at the Guild Theater in Albuquerque, NM, on Sept. 21, at 6 and 8 PM. Q&A with Nelson Valdes will follow. Counterpunch published his BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD.

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SAUL LANDAU’s A BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD was published by CounterPunch / AK Press.

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