To celebrate July 4th, the Weeklings Editorial Board brings you an in-depth look at the least acceptable among us. Although only living figures were considered, space was limited and deliberations were intense. In the end, there were fifteen good men (and women, but mostly men) chosen. God bless this great land.
MOTHERFUCKER HAS SO MUCH blood on his hands he makes Lady Macbeth look like Snow White.
I’m not sure what it says about me, but I’ve gone on record declaring, at times, my fervent wish that there was a God.
Because if there’s a God, there might be something, somewhere, approximating what we imagine Heaven to be. And if so, the existence of Hell would be unnecessary and irrelevant, because God could choose to exclude whomever She wanted, and by default, those denied entrance would spend eternity in a dark, cold place with nothing but memories of their misdeeds to neither console nor distract them.
To be clear: I yearn to see the Evil punished more than I hope to see Good rewarded.
Good, as we know, is often its own reward, but Evil, especially in America, not only tends to go unpunished, but unrecognized. Indeed, in a world where power trumps due process and wealth equals winning, Evil can wrap itself in the flag and cudgel sanity, occasionally even reality, into submission.
(Because in my vision, just about everyone can or should get into heaven. Even the murderers and rapists, who demonstrate some measure of penance or remorse. Or else, after prison or the simple passage of time, they come to understand the error of their actions. And, while some sins are unforgivable and some acts unimaginable, there is usually a greater injustice at the root of all senseless activity, including extreme violence and depravity. Concerning those who lead lives of crime, who are we –as well-fed and educated citizens– to declare Right and Wrong in any philosophical sense? In short, I don’t fancy being Judge and Jury to anyone’s eternal soul, or to act as some divine arbiter of forgiveness and forgetting. That, after all, is God’s job. Which is why we invented Him.)
But I do reserve the right to wish, against reason and the better angels of my very human nature, for something quite biblical in its simplicity and perfection. I wish that the rare individuals who do unto others what none could do unto them (i.e., the untouchable), and express nothing close to regret and can’t bring themselves to feign a gesture of introspection, face –at long last– some entity that humbles them irrevocably, incessantly. For those who are typically given the most and therefore expect more and commission the greatest ill against their fellow citizens, I possess indignation and disdain that yearns for an Ecclesiastic Imperative.
On my rather long list of most despicable people to pollute the planet during my lifetime, Dick Cheney goes straight to the top, no one particularly close to second place. In terms of rapacity combined with cowardice (nothing quite like a chicken hawk who actively avoided battle, blithely sending young soldiers to die and okaying the obliteration of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians; nothing like being in bed with Big Oil and profiting from policies that devastate the environment; nothing like being head of the company that wins the sole right to “rebuild” the infrastructure you did the most to help destroy, etc.) it’s difficult to imagine an American who has done greater harm while getting his pale bloated paws over as much filthy lucre as he could count.
A coked-up Kafka, plagiarized by Orwell on acid, run through a filter of Hunter S. Thompson with a suitcase full of narcotics, could not begin to articulate, could not even hope to imagine, a Hollow Man who epitomizes the worst humanity is capable of. Dick Cheney is many things: a half-assed Iago to Bush, a postmodern Rasputin with a borrowed heart, a bloated Robespierre without the wig, a self-styled Jove realized by illicit funds, treasonous friends and the bravado of back room deals.
Some are born into it; some are paid to do it. Some, like the irredeemably despicable Liz Cheney, are born into it and get paid (quite handsomely) to do it. But to single these cretins out is like blaming rock musicians for the dumbing down of American culture. The fact of the matter is that if people weren’t willing or able to be duped by clowns like Karl Rove, then clowns like Karl Rove would have to find another line of work.
And then there are the sociopaths, the ones who you actually fear believe not only in the apocalyptic fantasies they peddle, but feel they are the appropriate (even the chosen) ones to answer the challenges. Here you have the Kissingers, Weinbergers, Fleischers, Gingriches. These are seldom the ones behind the wheel (although some of them would jump at the chance), these are the ones riding shotgun, whispering not-so-sweet nothings into the impressionable ear of the idiot in charge (think Reagan, think Bush), the ones content to practice their dirty work long distance.
I have a special hatred in my heart for these smirking maggots, these duplicitous political hacks who reside inside the fortified cocoon of spin and subterfuge. The ones who are neither powerful enough to make the decisions or brave enough to do the damage; these are the ones who put on business suits before hitting the battlefield, talking points echoing around their half-empty heads. Their masters, the flies, crawl into the shit to lay their eggs, they are merely the spawn that emerges from this waste, camera-ready smiles frozen on their faces. They are not born into this, but they are bred for it (or, even more disgustingly, breed themselves, semi-human dung-beetles getting their coprophagia on), never capable of playing on the field or willing to cheer from the sidelines, they are the equipment managers, the ones who want to be near the action but not close enough to get caught in the crossfire. These are the spokespersons and professional apologists; the career insiders.
And, finally, there are the rare ones who, through a gruesome combination of timing, connections and monomaniacal compulsion, will themselves to power. To be certain, it’s always, in the end, about money (access to it or people who have it, and the truly American ability to make a great deal more of it if you can discard your conscience and avoid any actual consequences). But for the exceedingly singular individuals (Nixon and Reagan come to mind, a kind of yin and yang of will vs, skill coupled with venality and psychopathy), it requires a will to power that even Nietzsche would be at once impressed and appalled by.
Throw all that shit in a blender, add all the stale piss and vinegar, dirty money, fetid air of ill-intent and unimagined misdeeds from our country’s collective unconscious, and out comes Dick Cheney, sui generis, unclassifiable, undefinable even, the leering, recalcitrant sum total of everything we are capable of being, at our worst.
Don’t hate the player, they say. Hate the game.
Well I do hate the game. But I also reserve the right to despise. And crave the prospect of comeuppance for the players who bulldozed this world like it was their personal playpen. For the horror movie monsters who laughed at the carnage they caused. Because they could. Because no one down here could stop them.
Is there someone out there, somewhere, who can ensure there is some type of reckoning for these irredeemable swine?
It’s almost enough to make you pray.
Then again, we’d have to invent a whole new type of hell to house Dick Cheney.