Sunday, May 31, 2009

what are all those people doing out there?

I've come across an op-ed in today's NYTimes by Yu Hua. I first encountered Yu after hearing a review of his book, Brothers, on NPR. (Am I liberal enough? Reading the Times and getting my reviews from NPR; and then blogging about it?) Brothers is a monster work and details the life of Baldy Li. I'll leave the reviews to others because I haven't finished the book and because they're much better at writing book reviews. (You can hear/read the NPR review here, the LATimes review here, and the NYTimes review here.) What the book has struck me as - in the first portion - is something akin to the writing of both Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Ismail Kadare; a bit fantastical and vaguely surreal. What's more important to this day is Yu's commentary on the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests from 20 years ago. He purports there were two facts that have become apparent since then, the second being that "... after the summer of 1989 the incident vanished from the Chinese news media. As a result, few young Chinese know anything about it." What strikes me isn't do much a direct comparison between the pro-democracy rallies in China (or the government crackdowns) and the eight years of the Bush Administration, but a process where something is forgotten or exiled to the past because was wrong. Who resigns something to the vault if it were a just or correct choice? If they don't leave it broken and shattered the dark corner they end up justifying it until it becomes such a weary and threadbare memory that people eventually let the dog lie.

This is the premise of Dick Cheney. If his misdeeds had been left in the dark, if no one had questioned his thuggery, then we never would have seen him again; a better future for us all. Instead, he's been forced into the light - no doubt against his will or desire - in an attempt to convince "the people", as Yu says, that his decisions were in the best interests of "the people". The problem with this tack is that there's a huge difference between our looking to the past and seeing that the intention was good but execution poor, and trying to convince me that your intentions were ever good. Cheney's intentions were never good and the longer he stays in the spotlight blathering like an ass the sooner "the people" will get the truth. His intention was always solely focused on his desire for retribution and revenge; there isn't an unselfish bone in his body. Instead of wanting him to disappear, I'm perfectly happy to see his mug all over the TV and newspapers because the house of cards will fall much quicker the longer we're exposed to the lies. The people can be right - remember the millions around the World that protested the Iraq War? - and the leaders wrong not because they misjudged but because they believe their good is greater than our good. Cheney still believes he can muscle his malfeasance into truth by merely changing his story, scowling at the press, or reaching for anything that will either justify his actions or make us forget. He has been, and still is, supported in this belief by both Republicans and Democrats whose hold that their political life is their actual life. It's disappointing to see how spineless and shallow the Congress has been.

As Yu says in his op-ed, there are loads of young Chinese who don't remember Tiananmen because it's been hidden in a closet. What Cheney really wanted was the same process; hidden away so nobody would remember and he could live his dying days as some type of hero in his own mind. Instead, we have the pleasure of seeing him unwind and attempt to define his legacy as something other than shitty. When not a single piece of good comes from your eight years of work in leading your county, you are a failure.

A light Sunday chat.


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