How I'm Like Dick Cheney
This morning I had an epiphany: I realized I was like Dick Cheney. Not a pleasant thing for a lifelong Democrat and fervent Obama supporter to realize. But helpful nonetheless.
I realized I was like Dick Cheney when I was making a sandwich before work. Patricia has been sick for four days now, and I’m a bit of a germaphobe, and so for four days I’ve been extra careful about touching things around the house, and washing my hands after I touch things around the house, particularly if I’m going to make something that goes in my mouth—like a sandwich before work. But it’s been four days now, and Patricia is feeling better, and I’m hoping that the cold germs have passed through our home like a bad wind.
Even so, as I was making that sandwich, I thought, vis a vis the cold germs that might be lingering: They only need to succeed once.
And that’s when I realized I was like Dick Cheney. Because that was his attitude after 9/11. Terrorists were germs, they only needed to succeed once, and once they infiltrated our body they would make us sick.
It helped me better understand Cheney. Yes, “understand,” a word that the extreme right likes to sneer at, because they feel they already understand it all, and anyway understanding often leads to sympathy and they want none of that. To them, sympathy and understanding make us weak. And in a way they do. My epiphany this morning about Dick Cheney, for example, weakened some of my hatred for Dick Cheney. I saw him in a new light. “Oh. So Dick Cheney’s like me when Patricia’s sick.”
Here’s the key. I don’t like myself when Patricia’s sick. I don’t like being super paranoid about everything I touch. It’s no way to live. I’ve said this often. I try to change. Paranoia gets in the way of living my life. It upends my life. My fear of getting sick actually sickens me—not physically so much as mentally and spiritually. We’re scared enough already, but to be that scared? That’s really no way to live.
And that’s Dick Cheney. The left sees him as a monster, and in a way he is, but at the same time it must be awful to be Dick Cheney. To be so fearful and paranoid all the time. It must warp your mind and sicken your soul. Cold germs, after all, pass.