First — I won’t joke about this one (and here is how I have genuinely, and consistently, felt about it, in the past). I do wish him continued health. I do want him to see the longer shadows of his legacy — and read, within that Roman light — how history (with more temperance) will ultimately mark him down. I don’t expect it will be gentle — but I do expect he should have to know it, before he goes.
And even so, I cannot help but wonder whether — as many such transplant patients self-report — Mr. Cheney will now begin to feel the echo of his donor’s emotions (and the sort of emotions many transplant patients report feeling), simply for having the DNA and thus the stored chemical memories of another’s emotional experiences, coursing through his blood-stream, and reaching his brain-stem, synapses, and cerebral cortex, some 87,000 times a day, every day, for the rest of his existence here.
Will those chemicals change his perspective at all? That is an interesting, if somewhat unscientific question. We will look for evidence of it, and we hope anyone granted the right to interview him would plumb him for reactions along these lines — it would be a fascinating human interest story.
In any event, unfortunately, from the New York Times article, this morning — even with this very intensive intervention, the longer-term survival statistics, for people over 55 (Mr. Cheney will be 72 this year) undergoing a heart transplant, are not particularly encouraging:
. . .A 2008 study in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery found that outcomes were significantly worse for older patients. For patients over 55, the study found, 63 percent were still alive five years after their transplant, 48 percent survived a decade and 35 percent were living 15 years later. . . .
. . .In a government career with few parallels, Mr. Cheney, who was vice president for all eight years of Mr. Bush’s presidency, has been chief of staff to President Gerald R. Ford, represented Wyoming in Congress and served as defense secretary under the first President George Bush. He is widely considered to have been among the most powerful vice presidents in American history. . . advocating an aggressive assertion of presidential power.
He was a lightning rod for critics of the Bush administration, and his influence as vice president during Mr. Bush’s second term was considerably diminished. . . .
We will genuinely wish for his full recovery — but we have been down this very same path with older patients, and know that his odds are lower than 50-50, for a full recovery.
He may well live long enough, however, to read — from a hospital bed, somewhere in Virginia — that his long-time hunting buddy, Justice Scalia, has penned an opinion freeing him from the possibilty of a deposition in the 2006 Beaver Creek, Colorado retaliatory arrest for protected free expression case, captioned as Howards. My bet is that the Supreme Court’s opinion on that matter will be handed down before the end of June 2012. I wonder whether he’ll feel any empathy for Mr. Howards, with his new heart (from an ordinary donor — a part of the 99% — like Mr. Howards), when that day comes. We shall see.