I just spent two and a half hours with someone I despise. Not fun, but a necessary reminder. Like so many, I have been almost weirdly nostalgic for the Bush years in the face of Trumpty Dumpty’s circus. But I knew then that very bad things were happening and last night came the reminder.
I’m talking about the movie Vice. An insight into what we all knew and now confirming it—George W. wasn’t quite as clueless as D. T., but pretty close. Cheney was the Wizard behind the curtain pulling all the strings, driven by a carefully-crafted cynical vision of the world and a determination to bend it towards his self-serving and hateful plan.
From the beginning, I’ve said that the comparisons between Trump and Hitler don’t hold up because Hitler had a vision and a plan and Trump’s plan is just to confirm his pathologic view of his own ego and power. Cheney was much closer to the Hitler model, methodically shutting down checks and balances in favor of “unitary executive power” and opening the door to right-wing media, no-bid Haliburton contracts, manufacturing consent to turn 9/11 into an opportunity to get oil and so much more. All of it slyly and silently, with few people noticing. The scenes with him and his family could almost be occasionally touching, but then you must remember that some million families around the world might have been in the midst of a nice dinner when the bombs he ordered blew them to smithereens. And to the end, he showed not an ounce of remorse. Even when accidentally shooting someone on a hunting expedition.
Trump is a pathological narcissist, but Cheney is what is called a psychopath. Four of the twenty traits of such mentally disturbed people are that they are cunning and manipulative, show lack of remorse or guilt, exhibit shallow emotional response and demonstrate callousness and lack of empathy. Watch the movie with that in mind.
Of course, power itself seems to attract its fair share of crazy people—think Attila the Hun, Henry the 8th, King Leopold, Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin, Pol Pot and so on. But if we are to fulfill any sense of evolution in human consciousness and human rights, we would do well to remember that in the U.S., it is we ourselves that elect these people. If schools did their job to create citizens with the ability to think, with a beating heart that can feel beyond its own needs and the capacity to see through the lies and manipulation (the way we were duped into invading Iraq, well-covered in the movie), there is hope that we can at least lean toward the Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama, Kamala Harris and Nancy Pelosi brand of politician. Not perfect people, but not publicly-sanctioned psychopaths.
Go see the movie for this important reminder.