Dick Cheney is an avid hunter. He's been at it for years, knows the lay of the land, can spot a little bunny from hundreds of yards and pump him full of all-American lead before the wascally wabbit can say "what's up doc?" Sometimes he's so focused on his prey that he zones out his environment, intent on the kill. Hell, the guy can shoot deer, elk, quail and elderly lawyers with the best of them.
In fact that's what happened this weekend. In a highly publicized hunting accident, Cheney's long-time friend, 78-year-old Texas attorney Harry Whittington, was unlucky enough to find himself on the business-end of Cheney's barrel. Whittington received a face, neck and chest full of vice-presidential buckshot. Part of the 28-gauge payload lodged in Whittington's heart, prompting a "silent" heart-attack.
Nevermind the parallel between Cheney's trigger-happy recklessness and the thousands of Iraqi deaths and injuries chocked up to collateral damage, the really disturbing part of this little saga--and there are many--is the way the White House continues to shrug it off. For nearly a day, they neglected to alert the press at all. It was only when the owner of the ranch where the incident occurred phoned her community newspaper did the story get out.
The next damage control move included blaming Whittington for violating the sacred hunting tenet of 'announcing your presence.' Of course nobody told Cheney or his flacks about that much more logical hunting rule: "Don't pull your trigger unless you know what you're shooting at." It's a lucky thing for Whittington that Cheney's four heart attacks have taught the vice-president to be careful--he never travels without a full medical team.
It's hard to decide what's more appalling, the administration's inability to admit guilt and apologize (for anything), or that the puppet-master for the most powerful man on earth doesn't have the self-discipline to control his diet and go for a run once in a while. Four heart attacks? Yikes. The man's circulatory system must resemble an arab peasant village after an American air-raid.
Finally, it turns out Cheney's hunting license was expired. You can't technically get a license to shoot lawyers, but Cheney was violating a law even when he thought he was shooting at a covey of quail. All of this amounts to a case from the obvious files to even a casual observer of the Bush administration. Questionable behaviour, unintended consequences, cover ups; it sounds like business as usual. Let's review the administration's stance:
'We have some unfortunate collateral damage. We're not going to tell you about it until we're forced to. It was the victim's fault. We're above the law.'