In all the hoopla surrounding President Obama’s much-anticipated inauguration and ex-President Bush’s long-awaited departure, former Vice President Cheney seems to have quietly wheeled off into the sunset. Is that really the most fitting denouement for possibly the most important character of the reactionary soap opera that was the last eight years?
True, Cheney’s little wheelchair escapade at the inauguration did receive some clever input from policy wags and wonks, comparing him to Mr. Potter of It’s a Wonderful Life fame, the evil chair-bound banker who drives the kindly George Bush – er, George Bailey, that is – to financial ruin. This analogy actually sets up well for the Bushies themselves, who no doubt are penning vituperative musings about Ol’ Dick right now, laying the blame at his feet for everything from Iraq and the economy to hurricanes and the Dallas Cowboys missing the playoffs. Good move, Dick: Exit stage right. And fast.
Dick Cheney as Mr. Potter? Close, but not quite.
“It’s unfortunate for Vice President Cheney to have had this accident obviously, because there will be those who don’t like him, who will be writing tomorrow that he had a Dr. Strangelove appearance as he appeared today in his wheelchair. It’s not something he’ll be happy about going out in a wheelchair because he prides himself on his robustness.”
Surely you remember the Peter Sellers portrayal of the evil chair-ridden genius who found a silver lining in nuclear apocalypse -- namely that male powerholders would have to spend decades in a deep underground mine shaft with women selected primarily for their physical attributes, riding out the toxic radiation while they “breed prodigiously.” Underground undisclosed location? Maniacal secret plot to survive nuclear winter? This seems like Ol’ Dick, but the thought of him getting busy with beauty queens is just too sickening to seriously consider. Plus there’s that heart thing, after all, or the lack thereof.
Dick Cheney as Dr. Strangelove? Promising, but too nauseating.
The other leading Cheney-in-wheelchair comparison floating around out there is to James Bond arch-villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the commander of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. who murdered Bond’s wife. In the novels that gave rise to the Bond films, Blofeld was described “as drastically changing his personality and appearance in order to hide from Bond,” which is consistent with the film portrayals in which “Blofeld’s physical appearance and personality varies wildly due to the change of actors.” This is where the comparison derails for me -- our Dick was remarkably consistent in appearance and personality (unfortunately), and seemingly the role was played by only the one arch-villain himself.