The Usual Suspects

You knew Maureen Dowd would have something to say about The Incident. Today’s column (via True Blue Liberal) doesn’t disappoint, as she describes the “swift-BB-ing” of Harry Whittington.

Private citizens have been enlisted to blame the victim. Maybe poor Mr. Whittington put himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. But he was, after all, behind Vice, not in front of him. And the hunter pulling the trigger is supposed to make sure he has a clear shot. Wouldn’t it be, well, classy for Shooter to express just a bit of contrition and humility?

Instead, the usual sliming has begun, with the Cheney camp trying to protect the vice president by casting a veteran hunter as Elmer Dud.

Indeed, righties are lashing out at everyone in North America except those in the Bush Administration. Get this editorial at National Review Online:

Never has an accidental shooting occasioned so much glee. Whatever mistakes Vice President Dick Cheney might have made while hunting on the Armstrong Ranch in Texas this weekend, or in deciding how to make the mishap public, have been eclipsed by the disgusting wallowing in the accident of all his critics and the unsurpassable self-regard of national reporters outraged by a delay of at least 14 hours in getting alerted to the story. They worked themselves into a first-class tizzy at Monday’s White House press briefing, proving that no matter what the story is, reporters think it’s all about them. It is understandable that Cheney would not consider notifying the media his first priority following an accident during a quail-hunting trip with friends, and the meaning that is being read into the incident — about Cheney’s character, the administration’s competence, Bush’s foreign policy, and much else — is absurd.

This little tantrum is followed by the mild suggestion that, um, maybe the Veep should make a public statement now. But how juvenile is this? NRO sounds like a kid who got in trouble for not doing his homework and who then complains to Mom and Dad that Teacher picks on me.

Dear righties: Vice screwed up. Big Time. Stop making excuses for him and let him take his lumps like a man.

Fact is, even some Republicans are acknowledging that Cheney’s behavior is seriously weird. Jim VandeHei and Peter Baker write in today’s Washington Post:

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. …

… “I cannot believe he does not look back and say this should have been handled differently,” said Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman from Minnesota who is close to the White House. Weber said Cheney “made it a much bigger issue than it needed to be.”

Marlin Fitzwater, a former Republican White House spokesman, told Editor & Publisher magazine that Cheney “ignored his responsibility to the American people.”

This episode does speak volumes about Dick Cheney’s character. And what it’s saying isn’t good. Whatever happened in that quail hunt, the fact that the Vice President couldn’t even tell the President what happened, and that he still cannot publicly state that he is sorry he pulled that trigger, bespeaks a pathological lack of character.

This is genuinely disturbing. Even your standard sociopath could have managed an act of contrition for the public once he understood it was in his best interest to do so.

And if the Veep is so unglued by a hunting accident that he can neither inform the President nor speak in public about it, what’s he doing a heartbeat away from the presidency?

David Sanger writes in today’s New York Times that The Incident has created a serious rift between the President’s and Vice President’s staffs. “The tension between President Bush’s staff and Mr. Cheney’s has been palpable,” Sanger writes.

Until this week, the periodic disconnect between Mr. Cheney’s office and the rest of the White House has been the source of grumbling, but rarely open tension. … In the past five years, Mr. Cheney has grown accustomed to having a power center of his own, with his own miniature version of a national security council staff. It conducts policy debates that often happen parallel those among Mr. Bush’s staff.

Um, so who’s in charge?

At WaPo, David Ignatius placed The Incident in the context of “An Arrogance of Power.” The Bush Administration, he writes, has become intoxicated with a belief in its own “God-given mission.”

I would be inclined to leave Cheney to the mercy of Jon Stewart and Jay Leno if it weren’t for other signs that this administration has jumped the tracks. What worries me most is the administration’s misuse of intelligence information to advance its political agenda. For a country at war, this is truly dangerous.

The most recent example of politicized intelligence was President Bush’s statement on Feb. 9 that the United States had “derailed” a 2002 plot to fly a plane into the U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles. Bush spoke about four al Qaeda plotters who had planned to use shoe bombs to blow open the cockpit door. But a foreign official with detailed knowledge of the intelligence scoffed at Bush’s account, saying that the information obtained from Khalid Sheik Mohammed and an Indonesian operative known as Hambali was not an operational plan so much as an aspiration to destroy the tallest building on the West Coast. When I asked a former high-level U.S. intelligence official about Bush’s comment, he agreed that Bush had overstated the intelligence.

“Bush and Cheney are in the bunker,” Ignatius concludes. “That’s the only way I can make sense of their actions.” And the hard-core culties are in the bunker with them, outraged that anyone dare question the Vice President’s actions.

Criticize a politician? In America? Unthinkable. Our dear leaders are beyond reproach. Unless they’re Democrats.

(Cross-posted to The American Street)

17 thoughts on “The Usual Suspects

  1. Read the Austin American Statesman on-line.

    When you read an article at their site today about the shooting, you can also click on two great articles from 2/14 edition.

    Under Most Popular on 2/14 written by John Kelso, “Don’t Bag a Republican, They’re Too Hard To Clean”.

    Also from 2/14 and written by Mike Leggett, outdoors writer is article, “Responsibility is Yours, Cheney, Stand Up and Take It.”

  2. Last evening’s News Hour dealt with the fallout at length. At one point they reported an “off-camera shouting match” (Monday, I believe) between Scottie McClellan and an unnamed “NBC commentator.” (Aren’t they all in Turin right now? Has anyone heard who that commentator was?) But oh, to be a fly on the wall these days.

  3. Maha, you are welcome. I saw you on C-Span with Brian Lamb and got on your blog that evening or the next evening. I thought that it was a great interview and enjoyed listening to your thoughts. I’m now addicted. I log on frequently to read comments. In fact, I logged on before you had anything dated today, 2/15, and I thought, “Where is Maha?”.

    I love your format. Some of the other blogs are not well organized and give me a headache to attempt to weave through everything.

  4. Cheney should have used Danny Rollings classic statement of contrition..” my heart regrets what my hand has done”

    I guess I should reflect on my own spiritual condition, but I’m wallowing in joy than Cheney blew this guy away. With only so much compassion to spare, I’ll allocate it to the young men in Iraq who are getting their limbs blown off because of Cheney’s appetite for creating suffering and death.

  5. CheneyNoBlamey is to do a tell his side to the Republican Foxy Network today. Too bad the poor guy he shot will be the one with a Heavy Heart [filled with Lead], thanks to this stupid VP

  6. February 15, 2006 The Usual Suspects Filed under: Bush Administration, conservatism, Dick Cheney — maha @ 10:53 am
    You knew Maureen Dowd would have something to say about The Incident.The “swift-BB-ing” of Harry Whittington.

    If Mr. Wittington should have another heart attack and die may VP Cheney be prosecuted for negligent homicide or is he a politician, executive branch, under article 2 above the law and can only be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors, since this vacation was so clearly part of his official duties, to torture “unwitting” folks?

    To the National Review: One does not decide how to make his own crime public. The sheriff’s department can do that all my themselves, thank you very much Could it be that the VP’s secret service, obstructed justice by coercing the sheriff’s department into remaing silent for 20 hours until VP’s office and bush adminstration could “spin it their way” (ala Burger King’s “Have it your way”)

    About the “unsurpassable self-regard” of national reporters outraged by a delay of “at least 14 hours” , yeah, in being lied to about the facts (eg., Mr. Wittington was in “very good condition”).

    And what right do the national reporters have to be upset with Scott McClellan who stated 12 times, “you have to speak to the vp’s office for info. on that question” when VP’s office has refused to speak.

    FrankH in Miami contributed to this report.

  7. From the WoPo article,”When I asked a former high-level U.S. intelligence official about Bush’s comment, he agreed that Bush had overstated the intelligence.”

    He should have started that statement with,” Bush had (once again) overstated the intelligence.”.

    Now where did I file my Bush Amdin Score Card, DOD for Dept of Dummies or GOP for Group of Pigheads?

  8. “Peppered” and various forms of the word “Pepper”.

    He was shot NOT peppered. SHOT!

    The Republican Mean Machine – Rove and Repub. Chair Mehlmann pull out a word or a phrase to be used. We then hear it over and over again by their media friends.

    THEN, everyone uses the word on both sides and become “Parrots” instead of creative thinkers.

    I even heard the word “Peppered” on the show, “The View” today. If you go to Drudge, you will see the report from police. They did not use the word “peppered” but shot. Also, pointed out “poor judgement” and “swinging” by shooter. Check it out.

    It reminds me of the old Groucho Marx show. He always had a word of the day and attempted to get his guests to use it and if they did, the “Duck” came down with the word in his mouth.

    We Democrats don’t need a “Duck word” or phrase from the fat man, Rove.

  9. I would not be surprised if we discovered that this entire higher echelon republican admin is into satanic worship. How else can we deduce their complete and utter failures to do what is right

  10. Good point Britwit, Shot not Peppered. You had better believe that this was a conscious word choice by Someone. We have to be wary of the many ways language is used against us, and vigorously fight every such abuse.

    I’m reminded of a neighborhood kid who once had a job at the local McDonalds. As part of his training, he was instructed to always call it “shortening” not “grease”.

  11. Well hell, how often does the vice president of the United States shoot someone? It is a big deal. They are saying if Cheney had talked about it earlier it wouldn’t have been such a big deal. Hello! No matter what he did afterwards, he SHOT a man and that’s a story

  12. What else is new in this corrupted White House? everyday is bad news day and i can not understand that some republicans still stand by the lies and subterfuge that evolves daily.Either many people are ignorant, or they do not read the newspapers.We can no longer accept the secrets of this administration and we need to put an end to it. I say, impeach Bush and everyone in his cabinet so that we can salvage what is left of our America.

  13. What happened to the quails? Served at breakfast the next morning before the cops were let in, and the women left?

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