Dick Cheney is about to leave office. In spite of whatever worries you have about 2009, this single fact ought to be enough to buoy your spirits about the new year.
Dick Cheney - for all his egregious violations of protocol, decency, and the constitution - has skated through his 8 years in office with a minimum of media reprimand or screed. How much, for instance, did you ever hear about Cheney's stock options with Halliburton and how his personal returns soared into the thousands of percent as a result of Halliburton's no-bid contracts from the Bush - Cheney administration? In a media that feeds on scandal the way vultures feed on road kill, Cheney's moral decay was oddly passed over.
Cheney casually asserts that the president can start war without Congressional consent, (even if the war is with a concept like terrorism) and once engaged in war can suspend any laws (again, without Congressional consent). More than that, the president can launch nuclear attack without consenting with anyone.
Cheney's vision of the presidency is not that of a normal dictator, whose rule would extend without question across a mere country only. No, Cheney's president as dictator is of an emperor of the free world - able to end laws and life without challenge.
I suspect that Cheney's insistence on attacking Saddam was motivated by envy as much as perceived threat; no one questioned Saddam within the country and Cheney's reach for power has been coupled with a near refusal to explain himself. Although the man has never distinguished himself with any notable intelligence or wisdom, he feels as though he is a superior to the 300+ million Americans for whom he works and simply does not have to engage the rest of us in any kind of conversation. This is not our country - we have, in his mind, turned it over to George and him for the 8 years.
It still baffles me that George and Dick are leaving office with no worse penalty than record low approval ratings. But I'll let go of that for now. The real point is that they are leaving office. And that is reason enough to welcome 2009.