AUTHOR’S NOTE: When I heard yesterday that Unka Dick was writing a book criticizing George Bush for “going soft” on “their” policies in the final year of his Presidency, I couldn’t help imagining what he would say. This is the result. Enjoy!
THE SCENE: Dick Cheney’s secret bunker, erm, house. It is lushly appointed in Modern Dungeon, with grey walls mimicking the look of concrete, medieval torture devices tastefully displayed in gleaming mahogany cabinets with recessed lighting, and an old electric chair given pride of place in a prominent corner. Pictures of Cheney with Nixon, Kissinger and other reviled figures of the American past are positioned artfully on the walls. There are some obvious empty spaces where the pictures of Dick and Dubya used to hang. On the mantle over the stone fireplace are family pictures in black ebony frames; the 75-inch flatscreen TV is perpetually tuned to Fox News. The whole place seems like a museum, and a rather uninviting one at that.
DICK is seated in a leather armchair by the fireplace, waiting impatiently, sipping on a bourbon and water. He is half-drunk, as usual. Finally, his wife LYNNE enters the room with another woman, in her early sixties, and well-put together.
LYNNE: Dick, here she is. What did you say your name was again, honey?
WOMAN: Mrs. Cheney, my name is Frances Wood – I’m here to help Dick with his book.
LYNNE: Well now, Frances, I think you’re going to work out just wonderfully. I’ll leave you both to your work. I just know it’s going to be a huge best-seller!
DICK (motioning to a chair opposite him): Well, sit down, Frances, sit down. Tell me about yourself. Do you have a lot of ghostwriting experience?
FRANCES: Actually, yes. I write all of the books for Regnery Press. You know, the conservative publishing house? Michelle Malkin, Bernie Goldberg…folks like that.
DICK (impressed): Well! It looks like I’m in very good hands then.
FRANCES (faux-modestly): I like to think so. So, Mr. Vice President –
DICK (interrupting): Call me Dick. Everyone does.
FRANCES: Well, uh, Dick, where would you like to start?
DICK: At the beginning, of course! Chapter 1: The Nixon Years.
FRANCES: Perfect! May I turn on my tape recorder?
DICK (panicking): NO! No tape recorders! I get to wiretap you, not the other way around!
FRANCES (shocked): Uh, what?
DICK (recovering himself): Oh! Sorry. Just a reflex. Ha! Well. Where was I? Ah yes. Chapter 1: The Nixon Years. (leaning back in his chair and reminiscing) Ah, Dick Nixon was a great man. He had a problem with the drinking, you know: but otherwise, he was really on the right track.
FRANCES (encouragingly): In what way?
DICK (taking a sip of his drink): Remember when he said “When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal?” That was brilliant! Yes, if only he’d taken that farther, we would be in a much better place here in America. (abruptly standing, snarling) But no, that stupid Commie bastard Ford had to come in and ruin everything. PARDON Nixon. For what? A stupid burglary? That was child’s play, a nothing. The only mistake G. Gordon made was getting caught!
FRANCES (eagerly): Wow! This is great stuff, Dick. Please continue.
DICK (basking in her praise): Well, we can flesh that part out later. What I really want to talk about is how I developed my philosophy for world domination, and how that weak, drunken fool (air quotes) “Dubya” ruined everything!
(sitting on the arm of the chair, deliciously remembering his glory days)
DICK: It all began with a group of dreamers. Me and some guys from the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation, we decided that after President Reagan caused the USSR to destroy itself in Afghanistan, we needed a new focus for American foreign policy. At the same time, we realized that as much as we love our oil men in Texas, their time was coming to an end. Pretty soon the U.S. of A. was going to need all of that oil in the Middle East in order to survive. And of course, we knew that with the rise of that wimp Al Gore’s (air quotes) “internet,” nuclear weapons were going to start proliferating in countries that were very unfriendly to our interests.
And so was born – the Project for the New American Century!
(A fanfare bursts out in the room.)
FRANCES (jumping up, startled, hand on heart): Oh my goodness!
DICK (confused): Huh? (light dawning) Oh, that! Oh don’t worry, Frances. I’ll have it turned off. The house is wired for certain..special effects. (Presses a button under the arm of the chair) There! That should be the last time you hear it.
FRANCES (calming down, but now confused in turn): Special…effects?
DICK (embarrassed): Ummmm, yes. You see, it’s hard for some people to understand my speech, so we have a Cheney to English translater built into the house. (gesturing) My words are processed as they exit my mouth, so you can better receive my wisdom. But that’s not why we’re here, so let’s get back on track, shall we? We were talking about – my glorious vision!
(sits back down in the chair)
FRANCES: Yes, tell me more about (looks around apprehensively), um, PNAC?
(No fanfare. FRANCES sighs with relief.)
DICK: Yes, PNAC! Well, we understood that weak-minded, lily-livered hick, Bill Clinton was destroying America with all that so-called peace and prosperity. We knew it was time to do something quick! So here it is: Our Statement of Principles, from 1997. I can recite it from memory, of course.
“We seem to have forgotten the essential elements of the Reagan Administration’s success: a military that is strong and ready to meet both present and future challenges; a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad; and national leadership that accepts the United States’ global responsibilities.
Of course, the United States must be prudent in how it exercises its power. But we cannot safely avoid the responsibilities of global leadership or the costs that are associated with its exercise. America has a vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. If we shirk our responsibilities, we invite challenges to our fundamental interests. The history of the 20th century should have taught us that it is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire. The history of this century should have taught us to embrace the cause of American leadership.
Our aim is to remind Americans of these lessons and to draw their consequences for today. Here are four consequences:
• we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global
responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future;
• we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values;
• we need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad;
• we need to accept responsibility for America’s unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.
Such a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity may not be fashionable today. But it is necessary if the United States is to build on the successes of this past century and to ensure our security and our greatness in the next.”
(DICK looks expectantly at FRANCES. She is spellbound, but then, comes out of it to give DICK a round of applause.)
FRANCES: Bra-vo, Dick! And how did PNAC proceed after that?
DICK: Well, we wrote a letter in 1998 trying to convince ol’ Billy Boy to invade Eye-Raq. We had some of our Congressmen do the same. But it didn’t work. He couldn’t see the opportunity and the danger of Saddam’s evil regime. But when we got Georgie in the White House, we knew we had struck gold. And 9/11, well, that was just great for us! It was the perfect excuse to do what we had wanted to do from Day One. We even put one of our members in charge in Afghanistan! Allahu akbar, baby!
FRANCES (smiling, tactfully): Uh, Dick, I might not put that in the book. I mean, we want people to like you and sympathize with you. Right?
DICK (standing abruptly, thundering and pointing his finger): LIKE me? Do you think I give a shit about that? This book is about being RIGHT and setting the record straight. I can still influence the direction of this country and keep it from descending into complete chaos! It’s my duty as an American!
(taking a deep breath, calming himself)
Now, if you will excuse me, I think I need a break. We’ll continue in an hour or so. Please feel free to help yourself to whatever you need in the kitchen. The maid will be along shortly to give you a tour of the house.
(FRANCES, mindful of the bugs in the Cheney home, turns up the sound on the TV. She furtively takes out a cell phone and makes a call.)
FRANCES (in a stage whisper): Hello? Laura? It’s me, Frances. It’s working out just like you said it would! Dick is even more nuts than you told me! (listening) Yes, I heard the fanfare. (listening) Trust me. When I’m done with Dick Cheney, your husband George is going to look like a saint! (listening) You’re welcome, honey. Anything for a fellow Kappa Alpha Theta! KAT Forever! Bye, honey!
(FRANCES hangs up the phone happily.)