Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Cheney on the Couch

Stooping to psychobabble this Memorial Day weekend, I find myself wondering: What is the former Vice President, who evaded military service in his youth, trying to prove with his late-in-life display of extreme machismo? What fuels his tougher-than-thou attacks on Barack Obama, a Commander-in-Chief from a post-draft generation that did not have to face a public test of personal courage?

In his weekend address today, the President observes that "our survival as a nation came down not simply to the wisdom of our leaders or the resilience of our people, but to the courage and valor of our fighting men and women."

Below that simple statement of fact are many millions of individual struggles of conscience by young people over risking their lives for their country. (As one of them in World War II, I can testify to the fears as well as the courage of what is now called the Greatest Generation.)

In the 1960s, Dick Cheney resolved his own conflict by asking for and getting five draft deferments during the Vietnam war. Looking back, he said in a Washington Post interview, "I had other priorities in the 60's than military service."

Ever since then, as a member of Congress, Secretary of Defense and Vice President, Cheney has been part of a process that sends young people to give their lives for their country--without the deeply felt experience of those like John McCain, who doesn't share his views on torture.

What's disturbing about this disconnection between rhetoric and reality is the sense that Dick Cheney is, at some level, driven to prove that his earlier choices in life are not the true test of his manhood. No reasonable person would argue that they are, but does he himself believe that?

However unfair it may be to put Cheney on the couch this way, there is an oblique recognition of the issue in Gail Collins' comment today:

“'To bring the worst of the worst terrorists inside the United States would be cause for great danger and regret in the years to come,' snarled Dick Cheney in his 'no middle ground' speech. Although really, for the sake of the national mental health, it might be better if we all just ignore the former vice president until he agrees to undergo therapy."

That's not likely to happen, but it would help if lay Republican leaders would advise him to stop acting out in public.


Yellow Dog Don said...

The 9/11 attack on the United States happened during the Bush-Cheney administration.

The deaths and injuries inflicted on thousands of American soldiers happened as a result of preemptive war by the Bush-Cheney administration.

We need to remember the sacrifices of the victims of the Bush-Cheney administration's failure to protect all of them this Memorial Day.

Dick Cheney needs to be quiet.

John said...

Yes, but don't forget Dick's own preferred mental image of grim-faced Dick in his post-9/11 bunker.

Sweating, jaw clenched in unshakable determination as he hollers orders over the wireless. The bombs, planes, and mortars exploding above. Lights flickering on and off, soil, anthrax, and plaster dust raining down from the crude timber-re-inforced bunker ceiling.

Dick Cheney, man of steel. Pure steel.

Anonymous said...

Cheney is not the only far rightwing extremist, especially of the neocon wing, to avoid service and then become some hard core hawk around and posturing about his manhood and lack of compassion.
Seems these are the adult version of a Bully.
Bullies like to be arrogant, push around and stoke fear. They go after people they assume to be weak in order to puff up their insecure little egos.
Cheney loved the idea of torture because it falls into the the realm of taking someone weaker, a captured and shackled prisoner, and inflicting pain and horror. This made his feel powerful and tough.
Erase the helpless feelings from 9-11 and the abject failure of his and the administration's dismissal of the warnings about this very thing.
Cheney already had sociopathic tendencies and core hate for most people, who he saw as stupid and not equal to himself.
Also, notice that the real heroes like McCain and Powell tend to be people who look for the middle ground, reject torture and war as glory. They tend to be moderates in their politics.
The real hawks are the guys who have no military background and feel insecure now.

Anonymous said...


Yellow Dog Don said...

I attended SERE training at Fairchild AFB prior to combat duty in SEA.

Had Cheney not been such a coward, he too may have had the experience.

He would have known those harsh interrogation methods were used for the expressed purpose of showing us methods the North Koreans and others used to extract false confessions of war crimes.

The CIA contract psychologists came from this same base and supposedly reverse engineered those methods to get true confessions.

How in hell could they tell the difference?

Did they even care to know the difference?