Dick Cheney’s new book
Exceptional, might have been written by Donald Trump (if Trump had had someone who could have done it for him, for he wouldn’t have been able to do it himself). For Cheney’s book is basically saying the very same thing as the Donald’s red trucker’s cap, “Make America Great Again. “Except Cheney’s line is Make America Exceptional Again
This is the only persuasive, perhaps even convincing statement to be found in the messages of both men. For to become greater, or better than one was, to restore lost greatness (and greatness is always lost) is always a worthwhile goal.
If Trump is more convincing that Cheney, and he clearly is at this point in time anyway, it’s because his trucker’s cap, embroidered with the catchy phrase, Make America Great Again, is just that, catchy, whereas “Exceptional”? Not so catchy. The truckers will not immediately grasp even what that means, and then they’ll become immediately bored with any explanation.
But a few words about Cheney’s book. In his favor I’ll say for him that he has written a book and had it published, not something I’ve been able to do. And also I agree with him about our country being exceptional, but, and the ‘but” is all important, and what Cheney seems not to want to acknowledge, our country is, and most certainly has been, no less exceptionally wrong than exceptionally right. There are plenty of examples of both, and like individuals, the country has made mistakes that probably outnumber the things it managed to get right.
In any case, both Trump and Cheney are of the party of those who look only at the country’s past “greatness,” a time of course like a past Golden Age that never existed.
The two of them have much in common with the lineup of Republican presidential candidates, who would also identify themselves with those great moments and great men and presidents of the past. Such adherence to imaginary great and exceptional land and moments accounts for those out there, now in Iowa and NH, who would give them their electoral support. For we all would flee the real if we could.
And this also accounts for the lack of support, or better the rejection of both Cheney and Trump by the rest of us, a majority of us I would hope, including myself, by those of us who are repulsed and revolted by the blindness of these two men to history.
There is much to be said for restoring greatness, for renewing exceptionalism. But in order to be persuasive whatever is said has to be grounded in reality. Both Cheney and Trump are unreal. And that’s why they both come across as a joke, a cruel joke, but a joke.