[Written for a different blog right after Cheney shot his pal.]
The press has been missing the big story in the Vice President’s “peppering” of his friend. It’s not the delay in reporting possibly allowing time for any alcohol bloodstream evidence to dissipate. It’s not the prima facie negligent breach of hunting protocol. It’s not Whittington’s heart attack caused by a vice-presidential pellet. It’s not the permanently, and taxpayer-expensively, proximate medical roustabouts that trail after the VP like punished guardian angels (who knew?). It’s not even the garish obviousness of the itchy trigger-finger metaphor made flesh.
It is simply this:
Dick Cheney…has a friend.
Could anyone have guessed that the ultimate mad dad, this cantankerous uber-grinch of American policy both foreign and domestic, this epiphany-immune Scrooge , this man who, though compulsively draft-dodging, is a dead ringer for some Pat Conroy novel-inspiring brute of a military academy commandant, this unapologetic and presumably first-ever-in-the-Senate-halls “go fuck yourself” sayer, this unintelligibly grunting Yalie, this proud swinger of the revolving door between the governmental and the military-industrial, this fear-mongering stone gargoyle of a party chief who’d look terrifyingly at home in an old black-and-white Kremlin photo, clad in heavy dark overcoat and fur hat, gazing sternly out over a sea of goose-stepping troops and world-ending ballistic missiles, this mirthless, shipless Ahab so sour and without pity that his own heart attacks him on a weekly basis…has a friend?
Could there be some scrap of human love in him? Not Agape, of course, and certainly not Eros, but at least a smidgen of Philia?
Might he have a chance at redemption? Maybe so…
Go ahead, God, it’s finally time. I sense an opening. Send in the ghosts of carefully chosen Christmases! Send in that “Tuesdays With Morrie” guy and team him up with Barbara Walters and let’s just see what happens! Yes, it’s just crazy enough to succeed! Maybe things really will work out for the best…Iraq will settle down, Katrina victims will be able to return to a safe New Orleans, global warming will finally be addressed! We might just be okay, because Dick Cheney has a friend!!!
But then Dick Cheney went and shot his friend,
in the face,
with a shotgun,
while ostensibly endeavoring to extinguish the blameless life of an almost weightless, defenseless creature with the temerity to defy gravity within 20 yards of the Vice President of the United States.
Why’d you shoot your friend, Dick?
Did you share some feeling or idea earlier in the day with Whittington, a like-minded and congenial compatriot? Did your heart warm, just a little, and did that scare you?
Were you attempting an auto-amputation of this friend to stem what might otherwise have become a life-changing transfusion of milk of human kindness?
I think we’ll never know, and maybe, tragically, Dick won’t either.
[NOTE This is a piece I published on my old blog at the time. Decided to republish it here because I love it.]