We should have seen it coming. The signs were in evidence at every turn; flashing neon billboards displaying a clear message that this particular individual was gearing up for mass bloodshed and carnage on a scale that would defy even the most gruesome of imaginations. But when all is said and done in the spirit of remorseful hindsight, who among us really could have predicted that he would erupt like this in a spectacular display of homicidal frenzy, unparalleled in its cruelty and senselessness? Beneath that seemingly placid surface, few would have guessed that this creepy little non-entity harbored so much insane rage. Then again, Senator John McCain’s recent remarks before an audience of South Carolina veterans about blowing up Iran were over-shadowed by another extremely disturbed individual with similar views on gun ownership.
Indeed, the “straight shooter” from Coco Solo and the cuckoo stealth shooter from Seoul have more in common than the curious coincidence of their births outside the US in countries bearing similar names and a heavy American military presence. More relevant, perhaps, is their shared fondness for macho posturing, not to mention an overblown, absurdly dramatic prose style that reveals a narcissistic preoccupation with proving to the world that their smoldering resentments have deadly consequences.
Richard McBeef, the play Virginia Tech shooter Seung Hui Cho submitted to his understandably appalled English professor spelled out in stark terms its author’s seething contempt for humanity and a wholly unjustified sense of self-importance, while Character is Destiny, the woefully ironic title of John McCain’s most recent contribution to Barnes and Noble’s discount table, laid out an equally corrupted worldview similarly predicated on fiction. By my reckoning, at least, Cho deserves higher marks for originality than his more banal and prolific counterpart:
McCain: “As a governor and senator, John Chafee set the standard for honesty and decency that the rest of us on our best days could only dream to emulate.”
Cho: “You prematurely ejaculating piece of dickshit.”
The imaginary poetry slam continues as The Manchurian Candidate steps up to the plate:
Remember the words of Chairman Mao: “It’s always darkest before it’s totally black” . . . only to be slapped down again by “Ismael Axe”:
I wonder why it’s so sunny out. Today is one fruity day.
Encouraged by the audience’s frenzied cheers, “Ismael” gives them the “Seoul Patrol” signal and moves in for the “kill”.
“I hate him. Must kill Dick. Must kill Dick. Dick must die. Kill Dick.”
Sadly for the deceased playwright, the trophy for Best Performance By An Unhinged Asshole goes to the Beat Bard of the Beltway for his inspired riff on a Beach Boys classic:
“Bomb, bomb, bomb. . . Bomb, bomb Iran.”
Special honors go to George W. Bush a.k.a. POTUS43, who scored a slam-dunk with his free association musings on chicken plucking, area rugs and “poofing” polls, beating out Don Imus and Alec Baldwin in the “Hell Hath no Fury Like a Rich, Pissed-Off White Guy” category.
Whether or not Senator McCain is considering “Polls just go poof,” “Remember the rug?,” or my personal favorite, “Today is one fruity day,” as a replacement slogan for his next campaign bus tour remains to be seen, although some would argue that “The Straight Jacket Express” seems a more apt definition of his careening wiener cart’s head-on collision with destiny as much it describes his increasingly estranged grip on reality.
Perhaps it’s not entirely surprising that both the “maverick” senator from Arizona and the campus “loner” and spree killer from Virginia were able to remain mostly under the radar of mental health professionals. As a nation, we are more threatened by “effeminate” traits in males than we are by their overt displays of testosterone-fuelled rage. John McCain’s alleged but never proven homosexuality cost him his party’s nomination in 2004, and it’s highly probable that Seung Hui Cho’s parents and classmates would have been more pro-active with their concern over his increasingly erratic behavior if it had included, say, a sudden fancy to nail polish. After years of torments (both real and imaginary) at the hands of torturers and playground bullies, it was arguably only a matter of time before their rage would reach critical mass. The signs were certainly in evidence before either of these maniacs made headlines for their spectacular, public acts of self-immolation.
It doesn’t take an expert on Freud to recognize how both Cho and McCain, whether stalking their human “prey” in the jungles of Vietnam or through the corridors of academia, exhibit(ed) an unhealthy fascination with the overt trappings of masculinity. Or that both men’s wounded sense of manhood resulted in bizarre media-generated diatribes, noteworthy for the seemingly unprovoked nature of their attacks upon innocent civilians both real and gruesomely envisioned.
Ironically, both made recent headlines wearing flak jackets with comically unintended results. Cho was described by one witness as looking like a “boy scout” (a description highly at odds with his intended persona of an “edgy” art house cinema anti-hero) while McCain’s suffered a similar styling fiasco during a recent photo-op that was intended to make him look a mercenary gunslinger. Unfortunately, his overly-accessorized stroll through a deserted Baghdad market inspired at least one comparison of the cocky little Senator from Arizona to Truman Capote, the “tiny terror” of Manhattan in reference to his unfortunate choice of a long, flowing scarf and sunglasses to complement his bad-ass Baghdaddy ensemble. Whether or not the resulting fallout caused the author of Breakfast is Destiny to erupt in a homicidal rage aimed at the Iranian people will no doubt spur debate among armchair Generals and fashionistas for years to come.