Former Secret President Dick “Dick” Cheney recently had his miserable life extended with a heart transplant. Once a Republican gets something, it is ‘mine, mine, mine’, and with Dick, it was no different.
Asked if he spent much time thinking about the person who gave their heart so that he may live, he brushed that query aside with characteristic lack of empathy: “It’s my new heart, not someone else’s old heart…I don’t spend time wondering who had it, what they’d done, what kind of person.” Which proves that it isn’t whether he has an old heart or a new one that’s the problem — it’s if he has a soul. His entire political life certainly bears this out.
In 1986, Congress was debating the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act, which included proposed sanctions against the government of South Africa. Dick was Wyoming’s lone congressman, and as expected, opposed the bill. Initially vetoed by President Ronald Reagan, a compromise was hashed out by both chambers of Congress, and with bi-partisan support, the new bill was passed with a veto-proof majority. Dick stood by his opposition to even the softened version. For him, the President, and other hardline conservatives, sanctions would be seen as giving in to the demands of the African National Congress (ANC), fronted by Nelson Mandela and deemed by the United States as a terrorist organization.
While the Act’s impact was considered minimal, it was an important gesture on behalf of a country who had taken too long to condemn the injustices of the apartheid regime. Within four years of its passage, Mandela would be freed, and within another four years, become the first black President of South Africa.
As the world mourned the passing of President Mandela yesterday, tributes and remembrances poured in from leaders around the world. Dick did not offer any comments or condolences, but it is unlikely he has changed his mind about the ANC or Mandela.
In 2000, while running for Vice-President, he appeared on “ABC News This Week” and was asked about his 1986 vote against sanctions. He stood by his original reasoning, explaining “The ANC was then viewed as a terrorist organization […] I don’t have any problems at all with the vote I cast 20 years ago.” Dick feebly backpedaled a bit, stating that Mandela was a “great man”, and had “mellowed” since his release from prison. Never mind that Dick cast the vote 14 years prior, but what is math when you can’t even count WMD’s?
Senator John Edwards, Dick’s opposition for the VP slot in 2004, brought up the ’86 vote during the campaign. It was a valid point of contention, even a decade after Mandela’s ascendancy to his country’s highest office. Dick historian John Nichols spoke to Mandela personally, reporting the following:
“(Mandela) understands that Cheney is effectively the President of the United States, one of the many reasons that he fears Dick Cheney’s power is that in the late 1980’s when even prominent Republicans like Jack Kemp and Newt Gingrich were acknowledging the crime of Apartheid, Dick Cheney maintained the lie that the ANC was a terrorist organization and a fantasy that Nelson Mandela was a terrorist leader who deserved to be in jail. Frankly it begs very powerful question. If Dick Cheney’s judgment was that bad in the late 1980’s, why would we believe that it’s gotten any better in the early 21st century?”
It is safe to assert his acumen in the 21st century was just as poor as in the 20th, if not worse. After an eight-year reign that included the largest terrorist attack on American soil, waging a war in Iraq based on trumped-up WMD allegations, the secret manipulation of energy policy to benefit private companies, the war profiteering of his ‘former’ company Halliburton, and his dismissal of runaway spending by proclaiming “deficits don’t matter,” it seems history will be a lot less kinder to him than to the esteemed Nelson Mandela. That has to stick in his craw, which is one thing a transplant cannot replace.
h/t: Huffington Post