It's unfortunate that Dick Cheney has decided to buck tradition and crawl out of whatever oblivion old presidents (and vices) are expected to gracefully descend into when they leave office. I'm not sure whether to be annoyed with him or embarrassed for him. Clearly, as little as six months ago, it became obvious that the American people were no longer buying what Cheney and his "boss" were selling. That a black man with a funny name could so incontestably be handed the helm of the American ship of state is a testament to exactly how fed up the electorate was with the performance of the Texas cartel and anything even remotely associated with them. So one has to wonder why Cheney can't just…give it up.
Since leaving office, ol' Dead-eye Dick has had to witness the continuing fragmentation of the right-wing base to which he and Dubya—and, thus, the Republican Party of which they were de facto commandants—pandered to keep themselves in power. Never one to countenance defeat, he's taken it upon himself to hit the talk-show circuit in an effort to single-handedly re-organize and re-invigorate the floundering wreckage of the party that held the United States of America by the throat for eight long years.
Of course he's rolled out the old blunderbuss that served the Bush Administration so long and so well: FEAR. Is it any surprise that his point of contention against the Obama Administration is "National Security?" Are we shocked that he is stepping up to any microphone afforded him and declaring that the policies of the new president are making Americans less safe?
Let me ask: Who ever said life was safe? How can you call any undertaking that always ends in death "safe"? To creatures like us—destined to die, but mysteriously imbued with the will to fight it to the very last—death never seems fair or right or welcome, no matter how it comes. We expend copious amounts of emotional energy on ways to cheat death, fend it off…we even seem to subscribe to the theory that inflicting it upon others proves we can exert some measure of power over it. But no matter what we do, who we kill, what we build, how much wealth we amass, what direction we face when we pray—we die. Isn't it a waste to spend life fearing death?
If the destination is always the same…shouldn't life be about the journey? Shouldn't it be about bravely and honorably facing the challenges that come our way? Shouldn't it be about what we will leave behind (because we are surely going?) Shouldn't it be about leaving a legacy of love and tolerance and forgiveness and understanding? Surely those things will do more to assure our children a place to live and grow than will fear and hatred.
Throughout American history, we have been at our very worst when we let ourselves be ruled by fear. We were afraid of Indians—so we mercilessly wiped them out. We were afraid of the black people that we ourselves brought here to act as our slaves—so we abused them, robbed them of their humanity and treated them like animals. During World War II, we were afraid of Japanese Americans—so we revoked their rights and slapped them into internment camps. And now, we're afraid of terrorists, so we take pre-emptive war far away from our own shores, torture prisoners and label the unintended but not wholly unanticipated deaths of innocent civilians "collateral damage."
Oh, we are so prone to indulging in shameful cowardice on a national scale.
The American people have (finally) chosen to shake off the latest round of national spinelessness. With their votes last November, they served notice that they rejected the "politics of fear." They are tired of hiding under their beds with their flashlights and their radios tuned to Rush Limbaugh. They are tired of playing "Let's Make a Deal" with their civil rights, exchanging them for a security that no democratically elected government has any business promising its citizens. They are tired of shaking in their boots and sending their young people halfway across the world to "take the hit." They are tired of the economic, diplomatic, environmental and intellectual disaster that was the administration of George W. Bush. And tired of the power behind the throne: Dick Cheney.
Do us all—and yourself—a favor, Mr. Cheney. Give it a rest. You had your chance. And you royally cocked it up. Shut up, go out to pasture, and give the new administration the peace it needs to rebuild what you destroyed.
We aren't afraid anymore.