Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Working On A Cheney Gang

So, if apparently incapable of doing the right thing, your political allies might step in to provide you with a conscience.

DC Republicans start getting nervous over Cheney's
bizarre post-shooting behavior :

Vice President Cheney's slow and unapologetic public response to the accidental shooting of a 78-year-old Texas lawyer is turning the quail-hunting mishap into a political liability for the Bush administration and is prompting senior White House officials to press Cheney to publicly address the issue as early as today, several prominent Republicans said yesterday.

The Republicans said Cheney should have immediately disclosed the shooting Saturday night to avoid even the suggestion of a coverup and should have offered a public apology for his role in accidentally shooting Harry Whittington, a GOP lawyer from Austin. Whittington was hospitalized Saturday night in Corpus Christi, Tex., and was moved back into the intensive-care unit after suffering an abnormal heart rhythm yesterday morning.
The comics have had their day, but with Whittington's medical setback, people are starting to realize that this situation is as serious as, well, a heart attack.

The scandal is no longer (solely) the fact that the vice president didn't alert the press -- or allow the press to be alerted -- until nearly a day after the shooting. The more prominent problem is that Cheney has decided to be "out of site, out of mind." A man he shot is back in intensive care after one of the pellets from the shotgun caused a "minor" heart attack -- and Cheney is nowhere to be seen.

Cheney doesn't necessarily 'owe' the press anything -- the more the press makes the story about his failure to alert them (us?), the more he will dig in his heels. However, he does owe the American people an explanation, or some public discussion of the incident.

For only the second time in American history, a sitting vice president has been involved in a shooting incident -- and he feels there is no cause for him to discuss the matter publically?

Give us a break, Mr. Vice President.

The public can have differing views on the war; the Medidicare prescription drug plan is confusing to many people; arguments can be had on all sides when it comes to tax policy.

But, somebody getting shot is a pretty cut-and-dried situation: This isn't policy issue folks have to think through too much to figure out how they feel about it. Whether a hunter in the South, random urban dweller in the North or tree-hugger in the West, anyone can understand the implications of somebody ending up on the wrong end of a firearm.

The vice president made a serious mistake in judgment -- and he seems to have forgotten that in this democracy (i.e. constitutional republic), he is still accountable to the citizens who put him in office. As ex-WH flack Marlin Fitzwater put it, in failing to be front-and-center square on this issue, Cheney "ignored his responsibility to the American people."

Exactly, in this form of government, the need for accountability from our highest elected officials remains: It is always true; it's not one of those things that becomes optional just because the country is quote-at-war-unquote.

UPDATE: Cheney will be interviewed on Fox News Channel at 2 p.m.

UPDATE II: Interview to be aired in full at 6 p.m. on Special Report with Brit Hume (repeated at midnight, I believe), though with some choice nuggets released earlier. Let me reiterate here something I said in the previous post's comment section: This is not (solely) a media-manufactured scandal: "I am fairly confident in saying that a private citizen would NOT have been granted the courtesy of arranging to speak with the authorities the following morning. If nothing else, law-enforcement would be double-checking to see if any drinking had been going on -- and if there was any indication that the shooter had been under the influence (I am not insinuating that that was the case with Cheney). If the shooter declined to speak with the cops right away, that would have, I believe raised a few red flags." Having "one beer" as Cheney admits doesn't mean that he was impaired while on the quail shoot. However, that information would have provoked some follow-up questions from local law-enforcement were this a typical case and Cheney an anonymous private citizen -- and were that information disclosed in a timely fashion after the incident.

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