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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Cheney shoots friend; office holds info 24 hours.

Vice President Cheney accidentally shot a hunting buddy yesterday, the AP reports — but his office didn't say anything about it for almost 24 hours until a Texas newspaper reported about it. That's not okay.

Copyright © 2006 by Philocrites | Posted 12 February 2006 at 9:17 PM

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February 12, 2006 10:23 PM | Permalink for this comment

The great thing is that technically Cheney is guilty of assault, even though it was an accident. But will he be impeached? No.
I also wonder why 70+ years olds are hunting quail, since my roommate says they are the hardest bird to hunt...why would anyone hunt something that can move faster than they can?

Pat McLaughlin:

February 13, 2006 03:42 AM | Permalink for this comment

Well, before I go back to Texas again, I want confirmation that the VP has already bagged his limit.

Assault AND failure to immediately report the incident, which is REQUIRED under the law.


I wonder if one of the unnamed folk hunting with them was Dan Quayle? If so, well....

I'll admit, I'm really looking forward to the political cartoons. This is a gift to cartoonists.

D. C.:

February 14, 2006 06:04 PM | Permalink for this comment

1. If I remember first-year law school correctly, if the shooting was an accident, then by definition it wasn't assault, which requires intent. (If Whittington were to die, of course, Cheney might be guilty of negligent homicide.)

2. From what I read, Texas law doesn't require reports of non-fatal hunting accidents.

3. I don't disagree that people are legitimately interested in knowing about the accident. But I fail to see why the press thinks it can demand to be ~immediately~ informed about every single event in the lives of those they deem newsworthy.


February 14, 2006 06:31 PM | Permalink for this comment

What is "immediately" in this case? How about within a reasonable amount of time? It's an outrage, another example of Cheney's "don't explain, don't apologize, don't give the bastards anything, walk on by" modus operandi.


February 14, 2006 09:49 PM | Permalink for this comment

What upsets me about this story is Cheney's lack of accountability. I think everyone understands that accidents happen, but he did make a mistake -- and he could be dignified enough to say so. His office wanted to avoid the story, and so did the White House -- leaving it to the ranch owner (with coaching from Karl Rove, of course) to provide the only account of what happened. But Cheney is a public official. He's vice president. He can't just duck and hide. He should have owned up to what happened.

Ari Fleischer, Bush's former press secretary, criticized the vice president's office Tuesday evening for not promptly disclosing the accident:

"It would have been better if the vice president and/or his staff had come out last Saturday night or first thing Sunday morning and announced it," he said during a phone interview Tuesday. "It could have and should have been handled differently."

Marlin Fitzwater, press secretary to Reagan and George H.W. Bush, also criticized the vice president's silence:

[Fitzwater said] Cheney "ignored his responsibility to the American people." He told E&P he was "appalled by the whole handling of this."

Meanwhile, Slate's John Dickerson writes that Cheney does a disservice to the president and to the country:

A Bush adviser once described the Cheney press strategy this way: "Never explain, never apologize." This has damaged Cheney's public standing and hurt the president . . .

Cheney's silence has forced White House aides to answer for the 21-hour delay without being able to give the real story (there is still no official account of what happened). The Cheney delay has also exacerbated questions about the Bush administration's candor and truthfulness. . . .

And at some point Cheney's starchy behavior is also insulting. Shouldn't there be some minimum level of explanation he's willing to offer as the second-highest ranking public official? When you nearly commit manslaughter as a public official shouldn't the honor of your office compel you to stand up and explain yourself in some fashion, at least say something in a press release and not just whisper it to a Texas rancher?

Those are the key things that annoy me about Cheney's irresponsible behavior. It is true that Cheney has apparently not committed any crime. I'm perfectly willing to believe that it was an accident, but we're talking here about a potentially fatal accident. (Lucky for his partner, Cheney is apparently skilled enough to have been using a 28-gauge shotgun rather than a 12-gauge, which would have killed Whittington.) He's not just some rich guy out peppering his friends; he's America's second-in-command.

("Ari Fleischer joins criticism of Cheney's response to shooting," Joe Strupp, Editor & Publisher 2.14.06; "Fitzwater, former WH press secretary, blasts handling of Cheney shooting -- as victim suffers heart attack," Joe Strupp, Editor & Publisher 2.14.06; "Cheney's bad aim," John Dickerson, Slate 2.13.06; "News of the Vice President's misfire hits a fellow bird hunter where it hurts," Stephen Hunter, Washington Post 2.14.06, reg req'd; links via Romanesko and Media Nation)

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