Vice President Luthor

When fiction isn’t scary enough

[ed. note: image “cheney-bald.jpg” is no longer available; the alt text was “An unfortunate nucleyar accident turned this child genius into the personification of evil and the arch-nemesis of democracy…”]

True story: during the 2000 campaign season, the company that makes Superman comics — DC Comics, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. — announced that Lex Luthor was running for president in Superman’s fictional universe. For those of you who haven’t seen old Lex in a while, the Superman comics universe was restarted about twenty years ago, and Luthor was reinvented as an evil corporate magnate who got his start in the tech industry. Still a scientific genius, he hides behind an aura of respectability as head of LexCorp, one of the largest, wealthiest, and most influential corporations in the world. Though Superman still thwarts his evil schemes, Lex always manages to come out smelling like a rose.

To most readers’ surprise, he won the election.

In comics, it is traditional to use the real-world president, and to treat him with utmost respect. Originally, Luthor’s presidency was not meant as a commentary on either man or party individually — if anything, it commented on what was perceived as the dismal state of American politics in general, when Lex Luthor could win an election. (The comic that revealed Luthor’s victory was released the day after Election Day, while we in the real world were still scratching our heads about our election.)

More recently, there was some brave social commentary in an “imaginary story” (one that only takes place in Superman’s mind) in which Luthor tried to force the Justice League — the team that includes all of DC’s marquee heroes, including Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman — to join an invasion of the fictional Middle-East nation of Qurac (which already existed in their world). Amusingly enough, this issue caused some conservative readers to go absolutely bonkers over a story that took place entirely in Superman’s imagination. Aside: comics are generally written 4-6 months before publication. It was written before the invasion, and the writer didn’t think we’d actually invade, interestingly enough. When it came out, we had already invaded.

Meanwhile, in the real world

What his fans see as pragmatism, his critics see as warmongering. Democrats and other critics paint Cheney as a dark, insidious force pushing Bush toward war and confrontation. But that doesn’t bother the vice president.

“What’s wrong with my image?” Cheney asks with a laugh. He contends that he operates in public when it serves the administration’s agenda, and in private when that is more effective.

“Am I the evil genius in the corner that nobody ever sees come out of his hole?” he asks. “It’s a nice way to operate, actually.”

Found thanks to Calpundit [no link to, since he moved and the URL looks hijacked].

Not a dream. Not an illusion. Not an imaginary story. The Vice-President of the United States, perhaps the most powerful second banana America has ever had, in his own words. Maybe he’s tired of seeing Rove get all the credit.

Originally, I was going to write an article titled “Fear of a Dean Planet,” about how Democratic Party leaders seem to be worried about Doctor Dean’s potential nomination, and theorize on why. When Kerry won Iowa, however, I began to reconsider writing the article, due to concerns about divisiveness and the appearance of sour grapes.

Cheney’s commentary answered my question regardless. There are no ulterior motives in concerns about how electable a given candidate is. It’s all about Fear of a Rove Planet. We live in a nation where Bush can claim to have done more for human rights than any other president and Cheney can happily take credit for being “the evil genius in the corner,” and the press that went after Al Gore for wearing earth tones just yawns.

Of course, they’ve ignored the virtual dismantling of our environment protection laws, our unilateral withdrawal from what few global obligations we did have, the litany of lies about Iraq, the betrayal of our education system, and the administration’s responsibility in the job market implosion, so why should Bush’s complete divorce from reality and Cheney’s cavalier claim to real world Luthor-dom be any different?

(/) Roland X
Let’s hope we get a truly super candidate to oppose them…

One Response to “Vice President Luthor”

  • […] In the book my wife referred to in the thread quoted above, I divide cinematic villains in a few basic ways, but for literary (or roleplaying) purposes there are two basic styles: “who says we’re evil?” and “evil and proud of it.” This gets into what they really believe, BTW, not just what they say. Few people are actually willing to admit to themselves that they’re evil. As a result, most villains — both real and imagined — fall into the former camp, and I was going to say the same about this lot. Then I remembered what should be an infamous Cheney quote: […]

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