Attempts at psychoanalyzing politicians are almost inevitably fruitless. Their protective smiles halt us at their personality’s foyer. They’re evaluating us: Potential ally? Political friend? Foe? Keep them all close – especially the enemies.
Yet part of me longs to reach out and walk with Dick Cheney, once an articulate conservative spokesmen and capable minority whip. Most accounts portray him as a stellar defense secretary. I enjoyed listening to him though I usually disagreed with him. What happened, Mr. Vice President? Was it the mood-swinging heart medication? Was it the haunting images of falling buildings and thousands of deaths? Is there lingering guilt? Do you feel, in your heart of hearts, that the government failed its most basic task: protecting its citizens? Did you make a silent pledge: Never again! Surely you must know that others – such as Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell – felt the same burdens and made similar pledges. Surely you understand that their differing advice stemmed from the same sense of obligation. So why the cheap shots against your former colleagues in your latest book? Why the vindictiveness?
But, of course, I will never see your heart – and I don’t need to. You’d smile the protective smile even if we met, and that’s your right.
I must, however, raise my own never again: You refuse to repent of your authorization of water-boarding, a recognized form of torture and a violation of Geneva accords. Torture is both impractical and immoral. It defies both conservative and liberal political traditions. Its practice has tarred our nation’s reputation. If the United States has any strength, it is the strength of its ideals. Authorized torture twists the knife in the American heart.
Never again should a leader be permitted to defy our nation’s most fundamental values. Richard Cizik, president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, called for repentance of this practice. See his article here. America should heed his advice even if the former vice president doesn’t.