Bush, Cheney, and Literary Criticism


Over the weekend, Maureen Dowd recounted a conversation with George Lucas in which she asked if it had been fair to compare Dick Cheney to Darth Vader. Lucas replied:

Lucas explained politely as I listened contritely. Anakin Skywalker is a promising young man who is turned to the dark side by an older politician and becomes Darth Vader. “George Bush is Darth Vader,” he said. “Cheney is the emperor.”

Amy Davidson offers a strong rejoinder:

Bush as Vader is ludicrous. The comparison betrays a failure on Lucas’s part to understand the resonance of his own characters, which explains a lot, especially about Episodes I & VI. Other than being the father of twins, Anakin Skywalker, born a slave, with extraordinary abilities (the “best pilot in the galaxy”), has almost nothing in common with Bush, born to privilege and not much of an advertisement for the notion of a natural aristocracy. Is Jenna going to be Luke and bring him back from the Dark Side? If we are going to play this game, Bush has more in common with Count Dooku, the Jedi dropout turned warmonger, or, better yet, Jar Jar Binks, who, after a buffoonish youth, improbably rises to a prominent political position and obliviously fronts for the soon-to-be emperor in getting the “Star Wars” equivalent of the Patriot Act passed.

The larger point here is that it was foolish of Dowd to ever go to Lucas with this question. People often have an instinctive belief that the creator of an artistic work is the best interpreter of the work, but there’s no reason to see it that way. Indeed, the fact that all real Star Wars fans reacted very negatively to Lucas’ most recent Star Wars films is an excellent indication that Lucas himself has a fairly weak grasp on the material. The simple fact of the matter is that Bush doesn’t much resemble any Star Wars characters.