Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Ch-Ch-Cheney of Fools

OK, let's get this out of the way.

As I
referenced on Sunday, the story of Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shooting someone while hunting quail (of course, it had to be quail, right? A Republican vice president, what else would it be?) is comedy and media gold.

Not even the most grizzled, secular, atheist-mantra-spouting clown could deny that there is a God with this raw material dropped in their lap. It's not just the late-night comics ("Top Ten Dick Cheney Excuses" was Letterman's topic).

Wanna know what sort of pop cultural lightnight bolt this made?

Try ESPN. A Sportscenter anchor Monday night described the atrocious statistics of the NBA-worst Charlotte Bobcats: "The only way to have a worse week is to have been on a hunting trip with the vice president."

Ouch. So, fine, the humor value is self-evident.

Except for one thing: This isn't quite so funny anymore. There are several legitimate political questions here:

Why did the vice president's office not alert the media about the shooting -- and Cheney's role in it?

Why wasn't White House Chief-of-Staff Andy Card made aware that the vice president was personally involved in the shooting?

Why did Karl Rove call Katherine Armstrong to find out what happened -- yet leave her to release the information to the press (the following morning, so it would only end up on the paper's Web-site)?

Why wasn't the president alerted about the vice president's role in the shooting immediately?

Why did everyone wait until Cheney flew back to Washington, DC?

A real simple question: On Hardball, Patrick Buchanan asked -- instead of making an arrangement
with local law-enforcement authorities to talk the following morning (and having the Secret Service dismiss a deputy who hadn't gotten the message) -- "Why didn't the vice president just invite the guy in and say, 'Here's what happened?'"

Great question.

And the VP had better have a good answer to that and the others real quick because the ingredients are there for the cultural zeitgeist to make this so-far giggly matter into a drastically serious matter for this administration.

Is the White House aware that we live in a country awash in crime shows? There are three installments in the Law and Order franchise, three CSI's, a Cold Case, an InJustice, a Numbers, an NCIS, plus their "true-crime" cognates on Court TV, A&E, Bravo, etc. etc. Almost all of these are fairly popular (or have been in recent years). That means a fair part of the populace feels that it "knows" something about criminal activities and what constitutes suspicious behavior.

Fairly or not, there will be more than a few who wonder whether Cheney's reticence was out of concern for the injured Henry Whittington -- or so a certain number of individuals can all "get their stories straight."

If, as it seems, the Vice President allowed his hostility toward the national press to cause him to take the politically expedient route rather than the one dictated by common sense, he may pay a very heavy price.

Final question, having nothing to do with legality: You think Cheney misses Lewis Libby right about now?

UPDATE: What JPod says here. And what NRO says here.

UPDATE II: What Marlin Fitzwater says here.

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