Some people just won’t go away. Now, Dubya seems willing to slink back to Texas and remain unheard and unseen. But that veep of his…

Lies, from Washington DC, it's Dick Cheney!

Lies, from Washington DC, it's Dick Cheney!

Monday ‘s Tribune greeted me with a front-page pic of Cheney and a report on the story I had already read online: the Snarling One had decided we are in grave danger because of President Obama’s policies. What, fear-mongering already? The next election is still more than 18 months away. But I guess Cheney just couldn’t resist. And the new prez is not just a threat to our national security; his economic plans spell doom and gloom too. And of course, the Bush administration had nothing do with the current recession. Those pesky global factors, don’t you know.

At this point, is there anyone outside of a few rabid Republicans and Lynne who gives a rat’s ass  what Cheney has to say about anything? By now, I bet even the missus has lost a little patience with the guy. “Get a job, Dick. Go back to Halliburton, or take something with Fox News. Just get out of the house already!”

I join Arianna Huffington in pondering how the Cheney interview might have gone in a better, alternative universe, with Jon Stewart posing the questions. And in that only-dreamed about place, the tiny article in the Trib that appeared just under the Cheney one might actually have significance. Trib readers only got a few paragraphs to learn that the International Red Cross found that CIA tactics at “black sites” constituted torture. They’d have to go to the Washington Post (where I first saw it) or the NY Times to get a much fuller look at the story.

Mark Danner, a professor of journalism, obtained the Red Cross report from 2006, and his article on it appeared in the New York Review of Books, with an excerpt in the Sunday Times. Cheney was the administration’s poster boy for waterboarding, but Danner says the president deserves blame for “explicitly and aggressively” denying that the United States tortured enemy combatants. Let’s review that: the president lied about crimes his administration committed.  Because make no mistake, under the international agreements we have pledged to accept, torture is a crime.

Are you surprised? Yes, it’s about as surprising as Dick Cheney’s wasting so little time in attacking Obama on every front and trying to absolve Bush of any blame in the financial mess and asserting everything the Republicans did was vis-a-vis suspected terrorists “was done legally.  It was done in accordance with our constitutional practices and principles.”

Reading about the report brought me back to a kitchen in Vermont some six or seven years ago. I was at a writer’s retreat, sharing an old farmhouse with three or four other folks looking for some isolation by day to write, some camaraderie at night to commiserate about the writer’s plight. We were all liberal, though some more than others. One guy was just appalled when one of us said (maybe me…) and others agreed that Bush and Cheney were evil. Not misguided, but simply evil.

As the years have passed, I have acknowledged to myself the severity of that assessment, and know it might be unfair. But at other times, especially in Cheney’s case, I think, maybe not. Evil can take many forms; you don’t have to order the Holocaust to be evil.

I suppose on one level it’s moot: evil, criminal, merely misguided, it’s all in the past. We have major issues to confront RIGHT NOW, global, societal, and of course for me, Crisis-tudinal. But the historian in me knows we can’t ignore the past. We should have a quest for truth, especially regarding torture and other illegalities carried out during the “war on terror.” Senator Patrick Leahy’s attempt to get at that may be quixotic, given Obama’s attitude toward prodding under the rocks that now bury the Bush past. But I think we would all benefit from it. And maybe that would finally keep Cheney out of the news – unless it was for reports on his role in the crimes and excesses of the past eight years.


~ by mburgan on March 17, 2009.

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