56.6 F

Davis, California

Sunday, December 3, 2023

A few good men

Are you looking for honesty in your friends? Do you value integrity? Do you enjoy eating spaghetti? If you answered “yes” to any of the previous questions and are currently single or looking for a new friend, I believe I can set you up with the perfect man. His name is Richard B. Cheney, and he was the 42nd vice president of these United States.

Several weeks ago during finals, I watched R.J. Cutler’s documentary The World According to Dick Cheney, because studying for final exams is overrated. In my defense, I was still productive: I watched it while ironing, or as Cheney calls it, “hot water-boarding.”

The film illustrates the life and times of our favorite Dick, a public figure who inspires love and hate. And these are the only two emotions people feel, as my extensive and extensively illegal wiretapping–for–research showed.

Cheney grew up in Casper, Wyo., and starred on his high school football team. After dropping out of college, he spiraled downward, often consuming large quantities of “Coors beer,” as he calls it. He’s not so different from you, me or a generic college frat boy after all.

And just like frat bros today, Cheney places significant weight on the loyalty of his friends. To repay him for his help and friendship during the Nixon and Ford administrations, Cheney secured Donald Rumsfeld a spot as Secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush. His strained relationship with Condoleezza Rice during Bush’s second term further illustrates his adherence to the code of “bros before ladies.”

Cheney’s intelligence and behind-the-scenes political savvy helped him rise to the top in Washington faster than a drunk freshman’s blood alcohol content. So although he never possessed the charisma necessary to win the presidency, Cheney employed his wiles to successfully maneuver Capitol Hill for decades, ultimately concluding in his election to the vice presidential office.

Like Michael Corleone in The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II (Part III is never brought up in polite company), he held strong beliefs and wanted above all to protect la famiglia. And like Marlon Brando, he suffered from heart disease brought on by Doritos and Cheese-Wiz.

Cheney made offers to prisoners and enemies of the U.S. in Guantanamo Bay that they could not refuse, seeing as they can’t stand trial. He kept his enemies close, but his friends closer, putting people like Scooter Libby in prime positions and then protecting them from political harm. These Godfather parallels are actually beginning to freak me out, almost as much as the Gitmo detainee diet documented in Harold and Kumar: Escape from Guantanamo Bay.

Yet for all their conviction, desire to do good and protect their own, and vehement moral convictions, Michael Corleone and Dick Cheney hardly remain as shining model citizens at the end of their respective lives.

Instead, they both find themselves caught in the aftermath of terrible loss caused by their confidence and stalwart moral positions, two traits which we so often praise and idealize as vital components of good leaders, despite the resulting stubbornness which when left unattended can lead to unnecessary wars, legal quandaries and worst of all, The Godfather: Part III.

What has been seen cannot be unseen. I am stuck with visions of Sofia Coppola acting until I drop dead in a Sicilian villa like Don Corleone; the United States is stuck with visions of Abu Ghraib and enhanced interrogation techniques. Who is to say which is worse?

After watching the documentary, I could only see Dick Cheney for what he really is: human. His strong personality and admirable convictions turned his life around, but also cost the lives of several thousand U.S. troops and injured American integrity in the global theater. And at the end of their rise to power, Cheney and Michael Corleone are left alone, and countless others are left to sleep with the fishes that Cheney fly-fishes for on the South Fork of the Snake River.

Make BEN BIGELOW an offer he can’t refuse and contact him at babigelow@ucdavis.edu.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here