For Cheney, Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word

February 13th, 2006

by and


Let’s be clear. The Vice President did nothing wrong.

“He was not careless or incautious or violate any of the [rules]. He didn’t do anything he wasn’t supposed to do,” said Mary Matalin, the Vice President’s spokesperson who had the benefit of not being on the scene when Dick Cheney blasted birdshot from a 28-gauge shotgun into the chest and face of hunting partner Harry Whittington. No, far from it. In fact, Mr. Whittington was lucky that Cheney was around. ”Fortunately, the vice president has got a lot of medical people around him so they were right there,” afforded Katherine Armstrong, the owner of the property where nothing improper happened Saturday. And let’s face it – if anything, Whittington is to blame for getting between a quail and Cheney’s firearm. You see, Whittington “had not made his presence known” when he briefly separated from the hunting party. Whittington should apologize to Cheney for ruining the afternoon and spoiling a good hunt. But why should anyone apologize when nothing really happened.

In fact, so little happened that it didn’t even warrant a statement by the Vice President or a call to the local police or to the media. So little happened that it was left to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times to report the unfortunate act of non-wrongdoing, non-carelessness 18 hours after the fact. So little happened that the Vice President’s office simply confirmed the non-event when asked and wouldn’t elaborate further.

What did happen of course is that Cheney accidentally shot his hunting partner. What did happen is that he notified no one – for reasons we can only begin to guess. And what did happen is that we see the twin Bush-Cheney character flaws of arrogance and deception get flushed out from the brush.

Cheney, like Bush, is incapable of admitting a mistake. Whether it was being wrong about WMD in Iraq, leaking the name of a CIA agent to the press, ignoring the urgent pleas about Katrina, or shooting some innocent sucker searching for his downed quail. On top of that, they have the audacity to blame the victim – getting this 78-year old loyalist to play the sap and take the blame for of all things taking a round of birdshot in the face. And of course there is their primal aversion to taking responsibility. Cheney hid from the press, didn’t put out a statement, and didn’t alert the media. What was he doing during the 18-hours between the errant blast and the call to the VP’s press office?

Perhaps this Administration would be a little more popular if it owned up to mistakes and took responsibility for failure as well as success. As a start, Dick Cheney could publicly say to Harry Whittington “I’m sorry, I made a mistake.” But that would take humility, grace and courage – not exactly what we’ve come to expect from this bunch.