He’s finally done it. The Sphinx has arisen from his slumber to address the multitude clamoring for an explanation of how he shot a close friend last Saturday in a hunting accident. To his credit, in a Fox News interview (video and transcript) Cheney took full responsibility for the shooting (as well he should) and did not hide behind the “blame the victim” rationales proposed by his friends who’ve been blaming Harry Whittington for the accident.
But I still have this nagging question: why did it take Dick FOUR DAYS to rouse himself from his bunker in order to tell the world what happened? And how can George Bush allow his presidency to be riven with discord and fragmented leadership by a gaffe such as this? How can a vice president essentially make up his own rules and have no accountability to the president’s staff? How does Cheney get away with leaving it to Scott McClellan to be his unwilling spokesperson while not providing any pertinent information to McClellan which he can pass on to the press corps? Doesn’t Bush realize this makes him as president look spineless and not in command?
But even in his “candid” mode, Cheney continues to show utter disregard for common sense:
He also said he thought it was the right decision to allow Ms. Armstrong become the only voice in describing what had happened.
“I thought that that was the right call,” he said. “I didn’t have any press people with me. I was there on a private weekend with friends.”
You come within a few inches of killing someone and you make the feeble excuse that you mishandled the incident because you had no press people with you?? As anyone can tell you who covers Cheney, the man has staff (even on a private hunting expedition) up the yin yang bristling with Blackberries, pagers, satellite phones, etc. None of them could’ve called his press people to discuss what to do? What’s more–you leave all communications decisions to your host rather than your professional staff? Pathetic.
We should note that in giving this interview to Fox News Cheney is still trying to spin the story. Just as Ms. Armstrong released the original story to a small obscure hometown newspaper in order to ensure it would be buried, so Cheney has fessed up to the most sycophantic news network when it comes to holding the Bush Administration to account for all its misdeeds. When Fox airs the entire interview at 6 PM today you can be sure Britt Hume will ask none of the tough questions the rest of the press has been asking since Sunday. Everything’s a ‘set up’ with these guys.
The broadcast of the full Fox interview reveals some new utter cluelessness on Cheney’s part. This is from the NY Times coverage:
Mr. Cheney said that he delayed making the news public because “this was a complicated story” and that he would do so again. It was more important to contact members of Mr. Whittington’s family, he said, than to get the story out to the public immediately.
For “this was a complicated story” read “we knew we were gonna get killed over this and we had to figure out how to minimize the fallout.” Aren’t you also touched that the vice president so selflessly cared about Mr. Whittington’s family more than his own professional responsibilities. Besides, I’m sure there was no way Cheney and his staff could’ve multi-tasked by simultaneously contacting Whittington’s family AND releasing the news to the major media.
And ol’ Dick just can’t stop himself, in the midst of his press woes, from sticking a finger in the eye of those mangy lib elite reporters who spare no effort to personally embarrass him every chance they get:
He suggested that the outcry about his failure to release the news, and then just to a local newspaper, reflected the unhappiness of the White House press corps that they were left out of the first reports.
“They didn’t like the idea that we called The Corpus Christi Caller-Times instead of The New York Times,” Mr. Cheney said. “But it strikes me that The Corpus Christi Caller-Times is just as valid a news outlet as The New York Times is, especially for covering a major story in south Texas.”
Gee, I guess the Corpus Christi Caller-Times is the most logical media outlet to use when the vice president of the United States has shot someone. After all, that story can’t be of much interest to anyone outside Corpus Christi, now could it?
In my last post about the accident, I wondered why Cheney’s party was still hunting in the dying light of a winter day when visibility could not help but be reduced. Cheney confirms my point in the Fox interview when he says:
Asked to explain how the accident occurred, the vice president said Mr. Whittington, dressed in orange hunting gear and wearing protective glasses, had been standing in a slight gully with the setting sun directly behind him. “That affected the vision, too, I’m sure,” Mr. Cheney said.
The interview also raises new questions about the account of the incident relayed by Ms. Armstrong, the host who adamantly insisted that no alcohol had been served to the party. In fact, Cheney reveals that he had had a beer during lunch a few hours before the incident. One wonders what she thinks will be gained by being less than candid about this particular part of the story; especially considering it is such a potentially huge news event. Attempting to midlead the press only serves to exacerbate the damage. When are those people ever going to learn that? One wonders if members of the hunting party have fibbed about this point what else may they have fibbed about or simply not revealed?