It’s Still Dick Cheney’s World

by Howard Fineman
The capital’s dysfunction is leading some thinkers here to conclude that “power” no long exists. In a tribal and digital world, the theory goes, top-down authority is dead.

Anyone who believes that — and every other voter in America — needs to see R.J. Cutler’s calmly voiced yet disturbing new feature documentary called “The World According to Dick Cheney.”

It’s a cautionary tale of unchecked zealotry in action. “We need people of principle who have deep conviction,” Cutler told me. “But deep conviction can also take down a democracy.”

Watch the movie and see the risks. In a fast-moving 109 minutes, you will follow the rise of a man who, at his height, had virtually unchecked power to rain destruction on other nations and who drove the creation of the military-diplomatic world in which we still live on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the fiery “shock and awe” launch of the Iraq War.

Power wasn’t dead when Cheney had it, and I doubt somehow the planet has changed that much since he was in his heyday.

Yes, the American “homeland” has not been attacked since 9/11. But the homeland we now inhabit is largely the product of Cheney’s thinking.

Is that his fault — or ours? As portrayed in Cutler’s film, Cheney is a force of nature, a potent mix of ambition, aggression, insight and fear. He is a blunt instrument, in both senses of the adjective.

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