The Cowboy Way
You know, some things a cowboy keeps
Yeah, like shooting a friend in the face
VP Accident Tale Filled With Discrepancies
By CALVIN WOODWARD and NANCY BENAC, Associated Press Writers Sat Feb 18, 3:52 AM ET
WASHINGTON - Vice President
Dick Cheney said he didn't immediately disclose his hunting accident because he wanted the confusing details to come out right. Instead, authorized accounts came out slowly — and often still wrong.
The result: a week of shifting blame, belatedly acknowledged beer consumption (not "zero" drinking after all) and evolving discrepancies in how the shooting happened, its aftermath and the way it was told to the nation.
"There's a reason they call this crisis management," said corporate damage-control specialist Eric Dezenhall, "and that's because it's a mess."
In the first days after the vice president wounded attorney Harry Whittington while shooting at quail last Saturday in Texas, blame was placed on the victim for not announcing his presence to fellow hunter Cheney.
"The vice president did everything right," Katharine Armstrong, the ranch owner approved by Cheney to disclose the accident, said Monday. Whittington, 78, should have shouted that he was rejoining the hunting group after drifting off to retrieve a downed bird. "The mistake exposed him to getting shot," she said. "It's incumbent on him. He did not do that."
The White House picked up on that theme the same day in attempting to deflect any responsibility from the vice president. "If I recall," Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said of Armstrong, "she pointed out that the protocol was not followed by Mr. Whittington, when it came to notifying the others that he was there."
The about-face came Wednesday when Cheney made his first public comment on the accident.
"It was not Harry's fault," he said. "You can't blame anybody else. I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend."
Although there is no evidence that beer impaired Cheney's judgment, initial denials that he had consumed alcohol were wrong.
"No one was drinking," Armstrong said at the outset. "No, zero, zippo." She said the hunters washed down lunch with Dr Pepper. Later, she qualified her comments and said beer might have been in the cooler but she did not think anyone drank any.
The investigating officer from the Kenedy County sheriff's department, after interviewing Whittington in the hospital, reported that the victim "explained foremost there was no alcohol during the hunt."
Authorities did not investigate the accident until the next day. The Texas Parks and Wildlife accident report, dated two days after the shooting, checked "No" on the question of whether Cheney appeared under the influence of intoxicants. It did not address whether the hunters had been drinking at all. (The report also included a diagram depicting Whittington's wounds on the wrong side of his body.)
Cheney acknowledged Wednesday, "I had a beer at lunch" several hours before the group's afternoon hunt, asserting "nobody was under the influence."
Look, among the rich of South Texas and their lackies, if the boss lady wants something to go away, it goes away. Pregnant Mexican teenager, wild son, overly familiar drifter. They all hit the road, get paid off.
Only problem is that doesn't work in Washington.
Which is why a week later, this is still an issue.
Cheney handled this as poorly as one could and keep his job. Now the questions center on his drinking and if he's got a girlfriend. And if the latter comes out, notice Lynne Cheney was with him yesterday, well, it could be a problem.
posted by Steve @ 10:41:00 AM