American Proscenium

On the Firing Line

Vice President Cheney’s mishap on the Armstrong Ranch in Texas last February is every hunter’s nightmare come true. The humiliation following that mishap is every politician’s worst dream realized.

An easy metaphorical reach allows us some fun at the expense of the Vice President, the apparently careless shotgunner who once held the office of secretary of defense, whose finger is today poised at one remove from The Button, and who stands as the principal architect (again, at a remove) of the disastrously conceived and waged Iraq war and the Bush administration’s fatal Middle East policy. More germane, if less gratifyingly piquant, is the fact that Cheney never served in the Armed Forces, where (presumably) he would have learned at least responsible shooting and also, perhaps, something of the art of war. The conceit, as I say, is compelling—but facile. In 1980, when Ronald Reagan stepped forward with his wife to claim victory on Election Night, he and Mrs. Reagan were presented with an enormous cake representing the United States of America on which all the lower 48 states were carefully demarcated. The cake proved as unwieldy as it was ugly, causing the First Couple-elect almost to drop the hideous thing. The following week, the “Talk of the Town” writer at the New Yorker spread himself with this one, suggesting that Reagan’s clumsiness in handling his cake was a metaphor for...

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