If you watched yesterday’s Scotty McClellan press briefing you saw reporters attempt, with mounting frustration, to tease a simple chronology of events out of the press secretary. Transcript at Raw Story —
Q But when did the president specifically know that the vice president had shot somebody?
MR. MCCLELLAN: I’m sorry?
Q When did the president know that the vice president —
MR. MCCLELLAN: He was learning additional details into that evening, on Saturday —
Q (Off mike) — it was the vice president that pulled the trigger —
MR. MCCLELLAN: Yeah, but we didn’t know the full details. But I think he was informed because Karl —
Q (Off mike) —
MR. MCCLELLAN: — I think his deputy chief of staff had spoken with Mrs. Armstrong and provided him additional update in that evening. So there were more circumstances —
Q The deputy chief of staff —
MR. MCCLELLAN: — more circumstances known Saturday evening, so the president was getting more information about who was involved, and that was in — that was late Saturday evening.
Q Scott —
Q So he knew — so he knew Saturday evening —
Q Scott, definitively, did the president know —
MR. MCCLELLAN: Some additional information, yes, and that the vice president —
Q — (inaudible) —
MR. MCCLELLAN: — and that the vice president was involved, but didn’t know the full facts of what had occurred.
Q How is that possible?
At one point, a frustrated reporter asked, “Was the vice president immediately clear that he had accidentally shot his friend or not, or did that information become available later?” One wonders.
Today Maria Newman reports in the New York Times that President Bush did, in fact, learn that the veep had shot someone. He learned it about 8 pm Saturday, from Karl Rove.
Now, Scottie, was that so hard?
Reading on, however, we find that Karl Rove got his story not from the Secret Service or the veep’s staff, but from Katherine Armstrong, the lady on whose property The Incident took place. The veep didn’t bother to report this to the President himself, or direct anyone on his staff to make a report. Hmmm. Then we learn from Jim VandeHei and Sylvia Moreno at the Washington Post that
… the White House allowed Cheney to decide when and how to disclose details of the shooting to the local sheriff and the public the next morning.
So, who’s in charge here? And does the President serve any actual function beyond smirking?
Cheney, in fact, has yet to make a public statement about The Incident. VandeHei and Moreno continue,
Cheney, who had a private White House lunch with Bush yesterday, did not comment on the shooting. Late yesterday, he issued a statement that did not mention the shooting but acknowledged not having paid $7 for a permit that allows him to shoot upland birds; it said he is sending a check to the state. Cheney said he expects to be issued a warning by state authorities for not obtaining the permit.
Further, local law enforcement could not interview Cheney until Sunday morning, about 14 hours after the shooting.
I can think of only three possible explanations for the veep’s behavior: (1) He’s hiding something; (2) he was so emotionally unhinged by The Incident he cannot deal with it; or (3) he doesn’t give a rat’s behind about accountability to the public or the law. Any one of those possibilities disqualifies the Dick from being a heartbeat away from the presidency. And, of course, all three explanations could be true.
An editorial in today’s New York Times says Dick’s behavior is juvenile:
The vice president appears to have behaved like a teenager who thinks that if he keeps quiet about the wreck, no one will notice that the family car is missing its right door. The administration’s communications department has proved that its skills at actually communicating are so rusty it can’t get a minor police-blotter story straight. And the White House, in trying to cover up the cover-up, has once again demonstrated that it would rather look inept than open.
Also true to form, the White House is blaming the wounded Mr. Whittington for the shooting.
Time for a Bush quote!
In a compassionate society, people respect one another, respect their points of view. And they take responsibility for the decisions they make. The culture of America is changing from one that has said, if it feels good, do it, and if you’ve got a problem, blame somebody else, to a new culture in which each of us understands we are responsible for the decisions we make in life. If you are fortunate enough to be a mom or a dad, you’re responsible for loving your child with all your heart. (Applause.) If you are concerned about the quality of the education in the community in which you live, you’re responsible for doing something about it. If you’re a CEO in corporate America, you’re responsible for telling the truth to your shareholders and your employees. (Applause.)
And in this new responsibility society, each of us is responsible for loving our neighbor just like we would like to be loved ourselves. We can see the culture of service and responsibility growing around us.
Oooo, but this responsibility thing is haaaaaard work. We don’t wanna do it ourselves. That’s what the help is for.
And if Dick’s a weenie, but the President defers to his bad judgment, doesn’t that make the President a worse weenie?