“Our report found that in the two years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush and seven of his administration’s top officials made at least 935 false statements about the national security threat posed by Iraq.” — Charles Lewis, “935 Lies.”
Recently I investigated my book closet to see if I could make more room for my growing library. It was the day after Dick Cheney had honored us with his presence on the Charlie Rose show. Lo and behold, there on the shelf, right in front of my eyes, was John W. Dean’s book, written in 2007, titled, “Conservatives Without Conscience.”
Then I recalled Bill Clinton who had appeared on “Meet the Press” on June 29. I was reminded of the discerning expression on his face when he said: “Dick Cheney attacks the Obama administration for not cleaning up the mess he made.” Whatever his past personal failings, Clinton never fails to be impressive with his outgoing personality. He seems to enjoy life, is open and expressive and comes through as straightforward and sincere.
Contrast that with Dick Cheney who sat talking to Charlie Rose with that lopsided sneer on his face that indicated that we can “shove it” as far as he’s concerned. He appears frozen, rigid, closed, mentally sclerotic, ultra cynical and completely unable to personally relate to others. He’s the epitome of those who have status and power in government and get carried away with themselves, lying and cheating and leaving a path of destruction wherever they go.
When I read the article, “The essence of jerkitude” in the July 4 “The Week,” Cheney immediately came to mind. “The jerk himself is both intellectually and emotionally defective and what he defectively fails to appreciate is both the intellectual and emotional perspectives of the people around him. He can’t appreciate how he might be wrong and others right about some matter of fact and what other people want or value doesn’t register as of interest to him except derivatively upon his own interests.”
Then there’s George W. Bush, who seems to live in a world of his own. He appears seriously lacking in mindfulness, empathy and personal connection with others and, as one of my friends commented: “There’s no “there” there.” He seems to have little personality except what he puts on to come across as a “good ol’ boy” Texan. He’s obviously lacking in substance and it’s sad that so many voters couldn’t see through that. But the authors quoted here obviously had.
In writing of George W., Mr. Dean offered: “It is abundantly clear that he is a mental lightweight with a strong right-wing authoritarianism personality, with some social dominance tendencies as well. Bush’s leading authorities are ‘his gut,’ his God and his vice-president. Cheney, it appears, knows how to manipulate the president like a puppet, and handles his oversized ego by making him believe ideas and decisions are his own, when, in fact, they are Cheney’s. … Cheney is the mind of this presidency, with Bush its salesman. Bush simply does not have the mental facility or inclination for serious critical analysis of the policies he is being pushed to adopt.”
Referring to the recent op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal by Cheney and his daughter Liz, E.J. Dionne Jr. commented: “It’s not every day that a leader of the previous administration suggests that the current president is a ‘fool’ and accuses him of intentionally weakening the United States.” And: “The Cheney polemic would be outrageous even if our former vice-president’s record in Iraq had been one of absolute clairvoyance. As it happens, he was wrong in almost every prediction he made about the war.” Trudy Rubin, in one of her recent columns, summarized it cleverly: “For Dick Cheney, Iraq means never having to say you’re sorry.”
The personal characteristics of politicians are fascinating. Their narcissism is often blatant and their obsessive urge to be in control and/or adulated is often very evident. Those who are willing to deceive and manipulate are a bit less obvious. But, as we have seen, there are few in high government office who truly have the welfare of the rest of us at heart.
As Piero Ferrucci wrote in his wonderful book, “The Power of Kindness”: “In the political arena, kindness is the giving up of domination and vendetta, and the recognition of others’ points of view, their needs and their history. Violence and war, on the other hand, appear more and more as remarkably gross and inefficient ways for resolving the world’s problems — a method that generates rage and thus new violence, chaos, waste of resources, suffering and poverty.” You tell ‘em, Piero!
Since 1984, Dorothy Dimitre has written more than 750 columns for various local newspapers. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.