On Friday morning, I woke up to the blessed news that one of the Kochs had croaked. David Koch, a billionaire who along with brother Charles did his best to destroy America within their lifetimes, passed away at age 79, having farted around for several decades longer than he deserved. No mourning for assholes. Throw his desiccated corpse in a wet ditch and move on. Bye.
Except, of course, it’s never as simple as telling a dead public figure “see ya in hell” and going about your day. In Koch’s case, people wanted to debate his legacy (it’s horrific), declare that he was actually a libertarian (who gives a shit) and scold one another for celebrating the demise of a guy who labored to poison human beings (again, you’re allowed). As a result, trending Twitter topics as we rolled into the weekend included “David Koch,” “Kochs,” “#KochBrothers” and…
Yes, whenever someone as monstrous as David Koch kicks the bucket, many eyes turn to Henry Kissinger, the now 96-year-old former Secretary of State, an unrepentant war criminal who has managed to stay in the good graces of the D.C. establishment although — or because! — he bloodied his hands in conflicts around the world, from Argentina to Cambodia. Nobody holds out any hope of watching him tried in The Hague, as he deserves, but at this late stage, the fact of his continued existence is an insult added to injury. Is he immortal? The devil made flesh? How many more ghouls of his ilk can he possibly outlast? Why won’t he fucking die?
I ask because we are ready. We are, you’d have to say, impatient.
Absent any proof of supernatural longevity, we can only presume this wrinkly old bag of pus will shuffle offstage someday. That knowledge could be what inspired Kissinger to join the board of Theranos, a hot biotech company later exposed as a total fraud — when someone made the next leap in healthcare, he wanted to be nearby! And while I’d wager that he’s not especially online, the man must have a sense of how eager we are to see him go; with the departure of every liver-spotted, Koch-like villain, he no doubt feels the silent breath of a reaper’s scythe passing him by… for now. The mystery is not just how he holds on, but why.
It’s time, Henry! You’re finished. Let go. The sooner it happens, the fewer years spent in a purgatory where radicalized shitposters openly pine for your suffering end. You’ve done all the damage you could, and now you need to wrap things up. When death comes, it won’t be ushering you to the next world as a gentle guide, but giving you the hook like a baseball manager. Truth be told, I bet some elderly diplomats scattered in nursing homes are staying conscious to make sure you precede them out of this reality. The polite gesture would be to take your leave.
Otherwise, you’ll remain the last figure of a cruel and cynical era in American politics, and a ruling class who sowed the divisions that gave us Trump. Your name will keep surfacing, a rotten ghost amid the decay, as if by invoking it we can finally exorcise an evil you godfathered. One by one, the rest of the monsters are fading away, vesting their accountability in you, till it seems absurd that a single man is such a concentrated symbol of corrupt empire.
Maybe, had you slipped into a coma around the turn of the millennium, someone might have mustered a few kind words — but no longer. The newspaper obituaries will show some restraint, and the rest of us will rejoice, our happiness barely dented by how overdue the finale was. And for however many months you have left, we’ll be waiting, thrilling at the idea that you might be next.