ESSAY
The Snarl-Smile, or, Dick Cheney vs. Rambo
Peter Clarke

Earlier today, Dick Cheney’s face popped up on the news and I thought to myself, “Let’s figure this guy out.” Why not?

I just turned 30 and it’s currently the prime era of Cheney’s irrelevance. Although he served as Vice President of the U.S. during the height of my political-rebellion years, no kidding, I hardly know a single thing about him—except that he’s generally regarded as nothing but pure evil. His characteristic snarl of a smile pretty much gives it away.

In my day job, I hire people to do relatively challenging work. If I had to hire a U.S. President in the same way I hire private sector employees, I would have a hard time. Most people in politics seem so overqualified but at the same time so depressingly underqualified. 

Dick Cheney went to Yale…

But he graduated from the University of Wyoming? Is his Wikipedia article biased somehow? Check out the way the sentence about his academic background is worded. It’s like his Yale thing is thrown in as a side-note to his time in Wyoming—like Yale has nothing on Wyoming. Wyoming: America’s secret crown jewel of academia!

People who ask questions when trying to say something are obviously confused. I’ll be the first to admit, as one of the voting public: I’m obviously confused (about Dick Cheney but also in general). All I know for sure is that it’s the humanity in all of us that matters most. This is true even though people tend to use the word “humanity” as a way of justifying their own personal flaws. 

In terms of humanity, Dick Cheney has a smile that can’t be trusted. Is there a story behind it, I wonder…? 

Just recently I watched First Blood, the movie that kicked off the Rambo franchise. 1) It was amazing and I think police have a propensity to bring out the worst in people—now more than ever. 2) Sylvester Stallone is a true American hero and let’s all agree that actors, like celebrity politicians, can make real contributions to life and culture—especially when they’re good!

Dick Cheney had better have a story about his creepy smile. Because Sylvester Stallone has a story. When Stallone was born, the obstetricians used forceps during the birthing process…and the result caused Stallone to have lifelong paralysis in his lip, tongue, and chin. Ever wonder why Stallone’s smile is more of a snarl? That’s why.

And you, Dick? Do you have a story? What makes you human? Are you an innocent victim like the rest of us—driven by compulsions and unfortunate circumstances to commit questionable acts? Or are you the sheriff in First Blood who sets everyman’s tortured hero, Rambo, on a needless rampage? 


Peter Clarke is a writer native to Port Angeles, Washington currently living in Oakland, California. His short fiction has appeared in 3AM Magazine, Curbside Splendor, Hobart, Drunk Monkeys, and elsewhere. He’s an assistant editor for Fifth Wednesday Journal and founding editor of Jokes Review. See: www.petermclarke.com.