I was kidding when I quoted Shakespeare a few weeks ago and wrote, “First, let’s kill all the lawyers.” How was I to know Dick Cheney reads this blog?
Somewhat buried amid the media wailing about the delay by Cheney’s people to notify them after he shot Harry Whittington is the fact that a law enforcement officer was turned away from speaking to anyone about the incident on Saturday night. The local law had an appointment for Sunday morning; common sense implies the police to you at their convenience after you shoot someone, not yours. Not to imply that shooting Whittington was anything but an accident, but overnight is plenty of time for someone to “get their story straight.” If anyone reading this sincerely believes he or she could just tell a cop to come back tomorrow after you shot someone, let me know. I think my Inbox can handle the traffic.
Granting it was an accident, stonewalling the police makes no sense. How tough was that interrogation going to be? “Uh, good evening, Mr. Vice President Cheney, sir, your honor. Um, did you—sorry, what I mean to say is you didn’t shoot that old gentleman on purpose there, did you? No? I sure am glad to hear that. I didn’t think you would, but it bein’ my job and all, you know how it is. I think that’s enough for tonight. I’ll just mosey back on down to the office and not talk to any of them al-Qaedas on the phone.” They had to get their story straight for that?
Speaking to the press on Wednesday, Cheney said he thought it was better for his host to notify the press because it would be important to get “as accurate a story as possible from somebody who knew and understood hunting.” Where was Cheney when it happened, having a few laughs over the newest round of Abu Ghraib photos? Cheney didn’t have anything to say because, “The accuracy was enormously important. I had no press person with me.” The man a heartbeat away from being president needed a media adviser to tell him what he just did, which, by the way, happened to be shooting someone?
The White House press office, which hadn’t been caught this unprepared since the last time anything newsworthy happened, uses the word “shooting” in conjunction with this about as often as Dubya uses “perspicacity” in conjunction with anything other than sweat. “Accident” is the spin du jour. It’s accurate, as far as it goes, which is about as far as you can throw Bill Bennett. It was an accidental shooting, which is different from garden variety accidents like falling off a ladder or slipping on the ice or getting love ick on some fat chick’s dress. It’s an accident when you throw a baseball to someone who isn’t paying attention and hit him in the face; it’s a shooting when you use a shotgun.
A headline earlier this week quoted a gun safety expert as saying Cheney violated the first precept of gun safety. I didn’t read the article, but I could guess that rule might be “Don’t shoot your partner.” Maybe Cheney’s gun safety skills would be better if his other priorities hadn’t gotten in the way of his military experience.