Dramatica: The Strangeness, Charm, & Spin of Character
I See a Pattern Emerging

See Dick swear. Swear, Dick, swear.

Maureen Dowd is really funny this morning on Dick Cheney's expanded vocabulary. (Admittedly, as the Bush administration disintegrates under pressure, Dowd has been given a lot of material to work with.)

Here are a few of my favorite bits:

Even as Tom Daschle proposed bipartisan family retreats to heal the harsh mood, even as the Senate passed the "Defense of Decency Act," Mr. Cheney profanely laced into Mr. Leahy for criticizing Halliburton's getting no-bid contracts.

"I felt better afterwards," he told Neil Cavuto during a no-bid interview with Fox News. Hey, if it feels good, Dick, do it.

Is the Vice President of the United States really going around promoting the therapeutic value of using profanity? I felt much better afterwards. He says.

See Dick swear. I think. Swear, Dick, swear. Do not underestimate the importance of bringing your liberatory message to all the viewers of Fox, no matter how small. (Is this in the GOP platform yet?)

After disastrously dividing the world into the strong (Bush hawks) and the weak (everyone else), Vice turned his coarseness into another macho, tough-guy moment against a Democrat considered a pill by many Republicans. "I think a lot of my colleagues felt that what I had said badly needed to be said, that it was long overdue," he preened.

The conservatives defending Mr. Cheney are largely the same crowd that went off the deep end because of a glimpse of breast on the Super Bowl, demanding everything from fines to new regulations to protect red states from blue language.

I really like the saidbookism, "he preened" used in this context. Imagine if Janet Jackson had had a little more gall. Imagine her going on Fox to position her mistake as a much-needed feminist gesture, a confrontation with the viewers of the Super Bowl: women have nipples; get used to it. "I think a lot of my colleagues felt that what I did badly needed to be done, that it was long overdue," she preened. (As a nursing mom, and therefore someone who regularly confronts the world with this fact, I really wish JJ had been divinely inspired to say something like that.)

But the ending is my favorite, the part that made me click on New Entry in MT. [UPDATE: I see Patrick was struck by the same impulse.] Cheney walked right into a Damon Knight joke, and Dowd, bless her heart, catches him at it:

Mr. Cheney assured Fox's anxious viewers that he would stay on the ticket and in the White House until January '09. (No four letter words, dear Democrats.) Vice said of W., "he knows I'm there to serve him."

Mr. Bush must have missed that classic "Twilight Zone" episode where the aliens arrive with a book entitled, "To Serve Man." It turns out to be a cookbook.

The Twilight Zone episode is based on Damon Knight's 1950 story of the same title. I imagine Knight rising from the grave to administer a smackdown to the Vice President: Will you serve him fried, grilled? Or on the halfshell?