Elliot: Breath of stale air


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Former Stealth President Dick Cheney has criticized President Obama’s national-security team, telling a group of Wyoming Republicans on Feb. 9 that the guys Obama has chosen (John Kerry, Chuck Hagel, John Brennan) are not “good folks.”

I’m not sure exactly what he meant by “good folks”; well, possibly, they’re not good folks because not one of their first names happens to be “Dick.”

I’m not so concerned with first names (what’s in a name, Good Will Writing once wrote) as I am with, Why all these older, white guys? Our first African-American president (well, by half), and suddenly we revert to the Eisenhower administration?

“Frankly, what he has appointed are second-rate people,” Cheney said, presumably not referring to skin color, given his history. And his skin color.

Maybe we should cut Cheney some slack; I mean, he is rather an expert on second-rate people. He has spent his entire life looking up at them.

And Kerry, Hagel, and Brennan are clearly not “good folks” — they have never shot one of their longtime hunting partners.

Now, it is possible that some of the nominees like Brie (it’s an alleged French cheese, for those of you who don’t get out of the garage all that often). Liking Brie is a practice that, apparently, disqualifies you from holding important offices or from being “good folks.”

(Brie is Parisian cheese; even Parisians make fun of it is my experience. Make note of this before your next wine-and-cheese party just in case a Parisian unexpectedly shows up. Those unexpected Parisians, as Samuel Beckett knew so well, as he waited, can foul up, to put it politely, your wine and cheese choices.)

Well, OK, shooting the hunting partner was an accident on Cheney’s part. I’m assuming. I take his word that an old friend suddenly, and momentarily, morphed into Osama bin Laden.

And I’m sorry that Cheney, the old warrior (who managed to get five or so deferments to keep him out of the Vietnam War), never “got” bin Laden. Or just didn’t, somehow. I mean, anybody could have had a Tora Bora. Including “Seinfeld.” Wasn’t that an episode?

But why should we care what Cheney told a bunch of Wyoming Republicans? Which brings up the bigger question of, Why should we care what any Republicans say? As Paul Krugman of the New York Times points out, Virginia will conduct a study on the threat of flooding along the coast. (Yes, Virginia, Virginia has quite a coastline, and no, Virginia, we will not bring up global climate change, because the GOP believes those words are pornographic. Liberals, where the tall porn grows.)

Krugman notes, however, that in the flooding study, “Republicans in the state Legislature have specifically prohibited the use of the words ‘sea-level rise.’ ”

So don’t worry, Seychelles. We don’t use the words “sea-level rise” anymore, so now you’re safe from it. No thanks necessary.

Or there’s House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, coincidently also from Virginia (what are Republicans smoking there?), who wants to cut off all federal dollars for research on social-science issues. Hey, we don’t need to study human behavior; we’re all humans, we know it when we see it.

So why listen to Cheney? Well, there is his track record in determining who are “good folks” and who are not. Back in the days when he was a Republican congressman from Wyoming (when you could still stumble across horses and buggies in the streets of Iowa City), Cheney lauded the apartheid regime of South Africa for imprisoning Nelson Mandela.

Yep. Nelson Mandela.

Cheney truly knows “not good folks” when he sees them.

And I know a breath of stale air when I hear it.

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