I don’t usually jump into the political realm with this blog, but this story of Vice President Dick Cheney shooting Austin attorney Harry Whittington during a quail hunting trip is just bizarre. Apparently Whittington came up behind the group unannounced and Cheney turned around and sprayed him with buckshot. Whittington is still in the ICU (at last report) but they say he’s doing fine.
Of course conservative bloggers will shrug and move on, but the liberal bloggers will lap it up with post after post after post after post after post after post (whew). I guess that’s what you’d expect from the liberal/conservative divide, but I find the whole thing coincidentally strange.
This Land is My Land
First there’s the “coverup”: Washington didn’t report the shooting, deciding to defer to the property owner. Sheesh, if the Vice President of the United States was strolling around my property and shot somebody, I’d expect the feds to be doing the legwork. I didn’t realize being a property owner gave me the responsibility of reporting shootings on my land (or maybe that’s just Texas). It’s a good thing I don’t have any catching up to do.
I Didn’t Do It
Second, there’s the reporting that seems to blame Whittington:
Whittington “came up from behind the vice president and the other hunter and didn’t signal them or indicate to them or announce himself,” said Armstrong [the property owner], who was in the car.
Of course Josh Marshall (bias disclaimer: he’s a liberal blogger!) talked to a bunch of hunters (no word if they’re liberal or conservative hunters, but I thought only conservatives went hunting) and it seems pretty clear that it was all Cheney’s fault:
One point that comes through really clearly from everyone is that when you’re hunting and you hit a person — that’s your fault. Period. End of story. …
Now, this happens. One TPM Reader actually describes watching the same thing happen to his father-in-law. But when it happens it’s a matter or carelessness and/or recklessness on the part of the shooter and it involves ignores some of the most basic rules of gun safety.
So, from the information available, Cheney screwed up — a relatively common hunting accident, based (as most accidents are) by not following basic safety guidelines and being careless. Trying to blame it on the guy who got shot just doesn’t wash.
But then a Cheney advisor, Mary Matalin says:
“The vice president was concerned. He felt badly, obviously. On the other hand, he was not careless or incautious or violate any of the [rules]. He didn’t do anything he wasn’t supposed to do.”
Now hunting accidents happen. It’s sad, but it happens. But when Cheney, not exactly the most trustworthy person, shoots someone in a hunting accident, well, I just can’t help but wonder what the poor guy did.