Vice President Dick Cheney said Wednesday that his image has gotten a bad rap in the press and that he is in fact “a warm, lovable sort.”
Cheney conceded in an interview with CBS radio that he sometimes expresses himself “rather forcefully toward some of my compatriots, like Pat Leahy from Vermont” but dismissed as a caricature the idea that he is a “Darth Vader-type personality.”
“I think all of that’s been pretty dramatically overdone,” the vice president said. “I’m actually a warm, lovable sort.”
Cheney also insisted that his influence within the Bush administration was overstated throughout the past eight years. “The notion that somehow I was pulling strings or making presidential-level decisions. I was not,” he said.
“There was never any question about who was in charge. It was George Bush. And that’s the way we operated. This whole notion that somehow I exceeded my authority here, was usurping his authority, is simply not true. It’s an urban legend, never happened."
"Urban Legend." Hmm. What is it with this administration's use of genre references?
In an essay I published last year--"The Island's Greatest Mystery: Is Lost Science Fiction" (in Jay Telotte's Essential Science Fiction Television Reader)--I had already noted an odd George Bush evocation of "science fiction":
When George W. Bush answered the suggestion, during the 2000 Republican primary season, that he had avoided military duty during the Vietnam War due to his father’s influence, he replied to a reporter’s question that the charge was “science fiction,” meaning that it was not just false, but really, really false.
Cheney's use of "urban legend" shows about as much grasp of the term as "W's" SFing. Here's how Dictionary.com defines it:
a modern story of obscure origin and with little or no supporting evidence that spreads spontaneously in varying forms and often has elements of humor, moralizing, or horror
We know the origins of Cheney as Darth Vader; the evidence of his evil is substantial; there is nothing funny about his Vice-Presidency--other than shooting an old man in the face.
Still, as Steve Benen observes, "the standards for a 'warm, lovable sort' are inherently subjective. I find Cheney's slow, mechanical breathing kind of creepy, and his ability to crush tracheas with his mind unsettling, but that's me."
Satyam Khanna makes the case for his abuses of power. Not folklore, not funny.
We may not really know Dick (to borrow The Daily Show's joke), but what we do know about him certainly suggests that he's no choking doberman, or vanishing hitchhiker, or alligator in the sewer.