Tuesday, October 23, 2007
One More Thing...
This morning, over breakfast, I was reading this week's Newsweek, and a headline caught my eye: Cheney and "Deliverance." It was obviously a reference to the movie Deliverance, one of the most powerful, disturbing and yet paradoxically beautfully-filmed movies I've ever seen, and I bee-lined for the article.
It turns out that the article was written by Christopher Dickey, a respected journalist who happens to be the son of James Dickey, the author of the book that the movie was an adaptation of, and the scriptwriter for the movie. Christopher has worked for the New York Times and the Washington Post before working for Newsweek, and and has authored several books, including one I'd read in the early nineties, With The Contras: A Reporter In the Wilds of Nicaragua.
With The Contras was a powerful book. Dickey spent time with both Nicaraguan soldiers and contras-- "contrarevolucionarios"-- literally, counterrevolutionaries. I won't go much in this post into the 1979 victory of the leftist Sandinistas. What I will mention is that the United States, under the Reagan regime, funded, trained and supported several terrorist organizations within Nicaragua that cut a swath of murder, maiming, rape and crime across Nicaragua. Dickey, while voicing legitimate criticisms of the Sandinistas, documented the basically sociopathic nature of the contras, whom Reagan referred to as "freedom fighters."
In any event, Christopher Dickey, in his Newsweek article, alludes to the movie Deliverance, comparing Vice-President Dick Cheney to the character of Lewis Medlock, the character that was played excellently by Burt Reynolds.
Medlock is a blowhard. He's a rich boy whose money comes from inherited real estate. He runs his mouth off about how he loves to "come near death, then survive-- that intensity, well, that's something special." He is, as Dickey points out, a "country club Friedrich Nietzsche."
Our society is rife with these types. They are people who quote Sun Tzu's The Art of War at business lunches. They sit on a barstool and blather on about how linebackers need to deliver "punishing hits." And they sit in offices in Washington, D.C. and talk about the United States dominating the world. They are paper tigers
In his article, Dickey alluded to Ronny Cox's character, Drew Ballinger, who insists that they need to report what has happened to the authorities-- the law is, after all, the law. He's overruled by Medlock and the others. "The law? What law? Where's the law, Drew?," exclaims Medlock. Like Cheney, Medlock has dragged these guys into this fiasco and when it unravels, wants them to take away the thin line that separates them from the wilds he has disasterously tempted fate with. And like Lt. Commander Matthew Diaz, the fundamentally decent guy who stands up for the law and what is right, pays the price for the hubris of a cardboard warrior.
But there's one more scene from Deliverance that Christopher Dickey needed to include in his article. It comes toward the end, when the sheriff, who was actually played by Christopher's father James, the author and scriptwriter, talks to the survivors of the weekend. As he begins to get a notion of what actually happened, with a look that is a mix of disdain, amazement and anger, gives them advice that is the most unnecessary advice ever: "Don't ever do something like this again." With a loaded Supreme Court, and and emasculated Congress, it might be the next President who plays that role-- indictments, changes in laws, fixing the military that's been damaged so badly by this war. That might happen. But in the end, it'll be we the voters who need to tell them, through the various means available to us, "Don't ever do something like this again."