Thursday, July 15, 2004

Floating the Dump-Cheney Baloon

Things have gotten so bad for the Republican ticket that the party is slyly raising the issue of possibly dumping the potty-mouthed, ailing-hearted Veep, who has really been running the country for three and a half years, mostly into the ground.

Dick Cheney, whom Jon Stewart once referred to as "the human embodiment of a grumble," is truly a piece of work, my friends. Why even bother writing fiction when you have such a real-life character as he to simply describe? What novelist is imaginative enough to summon such a person?

Here's a guy, a quiet Wyoming native, who begins his career climb as the cooly efficient young chief of staff for one of the most-moderate, most-decent presidents in U.S. history, Gerald Ford. And 30 years later, he has become the living embodiment of the Ugly American, a cowardly man who dodged the draft himself but who nevertheless has the balls to publicly question the patriotism of a certifiable war hero named John Kerry. Who is the intellectual architect of an administration whose FCC (rightly or wrongly, depending on your view) cracks down on mild indecency on the airwaves but who then personally tells a sitting U.S. Senator to "go fuck yourself" on the hallowed floor of the Senate! Perhaps only his shrink can explain how one keeps intellectual company with vicious neocons who would savagely dismiss his own lesbian daughter's humanity (what, precisely, does he tell that poor woman in private?) Average Americans, who are shrewd enough to spot a ringer, have awarded him with a disastrous 21% approval rating, according to the latest polls, which are finally getting the attention of even this dimwitted gang in the White House.

But I hope to god they keep the Old Grumble right where we can see him. Because if they do, we'll get the unique and historic treat, come early October, of seeing this vile ignoramus try to debate a truly charismatic, optimistic guy named John Edwards. The Veep debate will be on the campus of Case Western Reserve University, and the competition for tickets should be intense (I'm told that our influential colleague Sandy Piderit, whose dean is hoping to keep her from jumping to Harvard or Stanford B Schools for a seven-figure pay package, has been given 100 to distribute as she sees fit. Just slip your ticket request, wrapped in a newly minted $100 bill, under her office door). And we'll see if the supposedly callow "Breck Girl" (as the Times' increasingly shrill and daft columnist Maureen Dowd calls Edwards) can keep up with this wily old Beltway veteran. Unfortunately for Dick, in this venue, the two gladiators won't be able to fall back upon their wealthy connections or their vast network of informants sprinkled throughout the vast federal bureaucracy. They won't be able to set up rogue operations to feed them the information they want. And they won't be able to keep the door closed as they gather cabals of industry lobbyists to draft the legislation which is supposed to regulate their industries. They can cut all the sleazy wink-wink deals they want with old cronies who now sit on the Supreme Court, but it won't help them a bit here.

In a public debate, all they can rely on are their brains, their hearts, their records and their ability to articulate all of that into some coherent narrative about why a democratic people should trust their team, and them, to lead them into the future. I think the Bush-Cheney re-election machine is rightly beginning to worry if grim old Dick is up to that task.


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