Dick Cheney is a One-man Zombie Apocalypse
An Occupy Wall Street supporter dressed as a corporate zombie eats fake US dollar bills in New York in 2011. Twitter submitted to a New York court ruling and surrendered tweets sent by an Occupy Wall Street protester accused of disorderly conduct.
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Rationally, I realize that the reappearance of Dick Cheney in the media landscape is tied to his promoting his new book, Heart: An American Medical Odyssey. And, with equal clear-mindedness, I know that his publisher no doubt timed the book's debut to capitalize on the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act – Cheney has gravely insisted in interviews that the ACA would limit the technological innovations that allow his own survival.
A more primal part of me simply sees "Cheney", "heart" and " Halloween" and I clutch my own chest in fear.
The Republican party has even more to fear than I do. Cheney – never very shy with advice – has used his book tour to continue his relentless campaign on behalf of torture and totalitarian tactics. And he's using it, paradoxically, to insist that he and his daughter Liz (now running for Senate in Wyoming) are allies of the Tea Party and that he supports their cause. "These are Americans", he says, not so much as a rebuttal against an accusation but as an accusation itself.
The Tea Party "rebellion", says Cheney is "a normal, healthy reaction, and the fact that the GOP is having to adjust to it is positive." Less generally, he has offered that Liz is just the kind of adjustment Republicans need. "My own daughter is running for the US Senate in Wyoming," he not-at-all-self-servingly-brought up in one interview, "partly motivated by the concern that Washington's not working, that the system is breaking down and that it's time for new leadership."
Tea Party representatives have warmly greeted Cheney's advice and responded to his praise with an enthusiasm that betrays the insecurity anyone might feel if, you know, most of America thought they were obstructionist brats: "Guess which establishment Republican just stepped up to defend the Tea Party?" teased a headline at Glenn Beck's the Blaze. This excitement suggests they do not realize the risks of dealing with a cold-blooded opportunist like the former vice-president.
He is a survivor, it's true – but to turn to Cheney for advice about longevity is like interviewing the lone recovered castaway for tips on sea travel: you can ask him for his recipes but don't look too closely at the bones on the bottom of the boat. Put it another way: Cheney is approximately 1,000 years old and made up of spare parts; he thinks the GOP needs new blood. Be careful, guys, Cheney usually means that literally.
My understanding is that Dick Cheney is not very religious, and certainly not superstitious. Anyone who has cheated death as many times as he has (five heart attacks, everyone knows that – but also five deferments from service in Vietnam) perhaps cannot afford to think about what kind of karmic imbalance grows out of his continued existence. In Heart, he reveals that in the suspended animation of heart transplant surgery – the closest to death one can come – his reverie consisted not of any moral reckoning or even meditation on the life he'd lived, but a dream about living "in Italy, north of Rome, about 40 or 50 miles north of Rome, a nice little village, drinking good Italian wine and eating good Italian food. That's what I had in my head."
That should be the first clue to desperate Tea Partiers that their leadership antenna still points due wacky. Dick Cheney's idea of heaven is Casperia. Who's "European" now, huh?
Watching Cheney in these periodic re-emergences into the public spotlight can be disconcerting in general: as with a horror movie villain, you can never count on a credit sequence to put an end to your fright. But the mutual embrace between Cheney and the Tea Party is especially morbid.