Just seeing the word can send a shiver up the spine. For some, it brings to mind sitting in front of an IRS form and looking for ways to keep money that should go to the government. For others, it will now be forever linked with the name "Sammy Sosa" and the words "corked bat". To most, the word conjures up images of themselves or their significant other getting hot, sweaty, and dirty with someone other than their partner. It isn't a pretty word.
A few years ago, I had to apologize to Rebecca because I "dream cheated" on her. How's that for guilt: I didn't actually fuck someone else while I was awake, but I still felt bad about it. But is that really cheating? No, not according to my definition. You see, that is what makes cheating so rampant: people can alter their definition of their behavior and deny that what they're really cheating.
You aren't cheating on your taxes, you're creatively maintaining your bank account. You aren't using an illegal bat, you're accidentally using a show toy in the real game. She's not screwing another guy, she's supporting the troops. He's not getting blown by that waitress, he's helping her quit smoking. You can find a stupid way to justify just about any kind of wrong you're willing to perpetuate if you try hard enough.
I generally chalk this kind of thing up to the modern unwillingness to take responsibility for anything. Blame McDonalds for being overweight or whatever. Now, speaking as a guy who has had weight issues his whole life, I can tell you that it isn't goddamned McDonalds' fault. It's mine. But a good number of people in our society seem to lack the "put the blame on me" gene. So we get rampant cheating and excuse making. Very unfortunate. Even Bill Clinton didn't try to say that his cock inadvertantly slipped into Monica's mouth while she was picking up carpet lint, you know?
But at this point in 2003, we're finally at a point where our leadership, even though it has found itself backed into a corner, can't just openly admit it and come clean about the fact that it lied, and it cheated, and that it did so in order to justify the illegal invasion of another sovereign nation and claim its spoils. So think about that the next time you reach into the cookie jar while you're on a diet, and you're looking for a way to make yourself feel better about it. It might just make you presidential material.