Five days later, it seems like most of the jokes about Cheney’s shooting accident have grown old. It could be just because it’s old news. It could also be because the humor was lost when Harry Whittington, the man who was injured in the accident, suffered a mild heart attack.
It was inarguably funny while it lasted. Jon Stewart simulated the incident using the old Nintendo game “Duck Hunt.” Another late night TV show host quipped that in fact Cheney was the weapon of mass destruction.
But now that the press and the country are taking a more serious look at the incident, one has to wonder just why Cheney handled the incident the way he did. The shooting mishap originally took place on Saturday evening at approximately 6 p.m. However, the press was not notified until Sunday morning. Further, on Sunday morning it was not the Vice President that addressed the situation – instead, it was local ranch owner Katharine Armstrong.
When the news finally broke, there was mixed reaction from the media. Some were infuriated that the President and the Vice President had sat on this news all night, others were just confused as to why Cheney chose to stay in seclusion rather than meet with the press himself.
Yesterday, the Vice President finally came out and spoke for the first time on the matter. And, in true Cheney fashion, he chose to discuss it with Brit Hume on Fox News.
Cheney’s words were seemingly heartfelt. “It was one of the worst days of my life,” he said. But, no matter what he said to Hume, the interview was insincere. He had simply waited too long – the damage had long been done. Did he really expect any audience to feel sorry for him? To do the interview so late in the game felt too political and calculated. I think it is simply disrespectful to the American people to let a rancher and then some political hacks try and tell the story when only he truly knew what happened.
There has, of course, been speculation as to why he held back the information for so long. He stands by his decision saying that first they needed to know Whittington’s condition and then they thought the rancher would be able to convey the most accurate information. I, however, think that the most telling thing he said was “I had no press person with me.”
In fact, that’s the crux of the issue – he had no one there to whip up a packaged response. No one had time to write up talking points. There were no pundits who could argue in favor of Cheney shooting someone.
And it seems like it took an awful long time for someone to tell him to go on Fox News and seem honest.
Jarrett can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.