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Forum Post: An Interview With Dick Cheney's Heart

Posted 11 years ago on Aug. 25, 2012, 12:10 p.m. EST by Carroll (40)
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I had heard the old wisdom that people having heart transplants get new hearts in the metaphorical sense as well: a new peace, a new softness toward life, and so on. I doubted this is more true than for any other life-altering event, disaster, or near-death experience.

I felt I would be a good judge in the matter of Dick Cheney's new heart since I had interviewed him after he had been in office for several months as Vice President. His objective then was to convince the nation he was not controlling a weak President. I wondered now if he may be wanting to duck his Darth Vader image under the camouflage of a new heart. I planned to get to the bottom of it.

First impression: a changed man--smiles all around, a ready laugh for my jokes. He wanted to tell me about the charity projects he had taken up. I let him and took long notes. Once he was exhausted on the subject, I mentioned the 'old days'. From the earlier interview I remembered his association with a certain political operative. The drop of the name was all it took to shift Chaney to retro.

"I learned my first political ropes from Sam.", he laughed. The light in his face showed I had found the right vein. "His job in the 50's was to lead the auto industry to new levels of financial commitment to the GOP. Politics then was the same as ever: money buys influence. But the growing concentration of wealth meant the voters' money had become irrelevant. We believed special interest money was all we needed to win and hold office. Sam had to convince this key industry that their increased investment with us would buy the desired legislation. Car sales in those years were approaching the ten million mark. The economy was booming. We all had a lot at stake."

"I'll never forget the formula as he explained it to me: 'Blind Roads' he called it. 'Roads' because that we promised to never stop paving. 'Blind' in the sense that Congress would turn a blind eye and not expect quality in any of it, from car makers OR road builders. That put the road and bridge builders on board at the same time and they both would enjoy a 'forever' of building and replacing cheap road way and machine. The beauty was that the public could never argue with new roads. Might as well be against their mother--another budget deal done. The flow-back from industry's profits kept everyone in office, Democrat and Republican--all in one club, the Democrats getting the big labor money. Competing corporate interests meant that office ownership would change from time to time and thereby maintain the illusion of an open political system.

And I liked Sam's phrase because it sounded like the 'Blind Hill' signs that puzzled me as a child. And it carried the cool double entendre, you know, it keeps the people blind too." He worked his jaws like chewing invisible gum.

He knew he was talking over my head, but he was enjoying himself in recalling this old warrior. There were none of his handlers hanging around, though a pretty young nurse brought in some pills for him and soft drinks for us both. He searched for a metaphor I might grasp, "If the pirate senses impending mutiny, he stages a phony crisis so the crew fights over the single life boat. No one will try to take the cutlass from his hand." I didn't follow the metaphor and impatience flickered over his face.

"Look," he said, "It's simple. It all revolves around the money in The Treasury and Congress's right to spend it. If we barter it for election campaign financing, rather than spend it for the middle class and the general economy, we get life-long tenure in office in return. So long as we fall over ourselves to refer to it as the 'taxpayers money' no one notices who really owns the money and uses it for private gain." His eyes sparkled. "And there will be no slip of the tongue in Congress. Those driving the blind highway have both eyes open. Wide." (Wink)

"But if the equally simple notion of passing financial ownership of the government's money to the taxpayers were to emerge… well, 'good luck' with that. Congress would never vote to give up their cash cow. And the voters, split into the ideological camps of Left and Right will never unite to demand it. With everyone at each others throat over a rotten life boat, no one will ever realize Congress has seized the money and the country." (Wink).

"Look how easy it was to start the Iraqi war with the huge surplus at that time. If the taxpayers had financial ownership of The Treasury, they would have wanted to spend it at home or simply cash out their holdings. But I'm not worried. It would take an American Spring to strip private ownership of the nation's wealth from Congress. All the people would have to join forces and demand financial ownership of the nation's wealth. Let them call it 'Occupy The Treasury' (wink). I would be called out of retirement to lead us back to the blind road, you know, to restore polarization, divide and conquer." His face grew flushed. "Hell, I wish people would figure it out. There's plenty of fight left in this old heart. People appreciate me during a crisis."

I believe his medicine took at about that time as he suddenly grew silent. He talked briefly some more about his new charity work and then he excused himself for 'physical therapy'. I shook his hand and told him I had appreciated his seeing me when he was Vice President and again now as he enjoyed the memory of a life dedicated to public service.



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