Maureen Dowd: Cheney’s Gun Silencer


Shooter Slips on a Silencer
Published: February 15, 2006

Who did this old guy think he was, coming between Dick Cheney and his helpless prey?

The luckless 78-year-old Texas lawyer, Harry Whittington, is in intensive care after a heart attack, with up to 200 pellets riddling his face and body — one stuck in his heart — from Dick Cheney’s designer Perazzi Brescia shotgun. And still his friend, the vice president, is Swift-BB-ing him.

Private citizens have been enlisted to blame the victim. Maybe poor Mr. Whittington put himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. But he was, after all, behind Vice, not in front of him. And the hunter pulling the trigger is supposed to make sure he has a clear shot. Wouldn’t it be, well, classy for Shooter to express just a bit of contrition and humility?

Instead, the usual sliming has begun, with the Cheney camp trying to protect the vice president by casting a veteran hunter as Elmer Dud.

Scott McClellan told the White House press corps that Katharine Armstrong, a lobbyist with government ties who owns the Texas ranch (and whose mother, Anne, was on the Halliburton board that hired Mr. Cheney as C.E.O.), “pointed out that the protocol was not followed by Mr. Whittington when it came to notifying the others that he was there.”

As the story of the weekend’s bizarre hunting accident is wrenched out of the White House, the picture isn’t pretty: With American soldiers dying in Iraq, Five-Deferment Dick “I Had Other Priorities in the 60’s Than Military Service” Cheney gets his macho kicks gunning down little birds and the occasional old man while W. rides his bike, blissfully oblivious to any collateral damage. Shouldn’t these guys work on weekends until we figure out how to fix Iraq, New Orleans, Medicare and gas prices?

This version of “The Most Dangerous Game” neatly follows the four-step Bush-Cheney cycle:

Step 1: Set out to pick off what you think is an easy target, like quail this time or pen-raised and netted pheasant in the past, or a certain sanction-caged Iraqi dictator.

Step 2: In the corrupt company of lobbyist-contractor friends, botch things up. Ignore the peril at hand — as with, oh, Osama at Tora Bora, or Katrina, or the Iraq occupation — and with steely resolve, indulge your raging incompetence. (Oops.)

Step 3: Stonewall. Resist giving Congress information about 9/11 or Katrina; don’t tell the public how you’re tapping phones at home, setting up gulags abroad and making war and energy policy in secret. Why give the taxpayers, who are ponying up for these weekend hunting trips, the extraordinary news that Vice shot his hunting companion in the face and chest? Scott McClellan knew before yesterday’s White House briefing at noon that Mr. Whittington was worse, but did not tell the reporters. He left that to Corpus Christi doctors, who spun the heart attack as “an inflammatory response to a metallic foreign BB.”

Step 4: Admit no mistakes. Express sympathy. Blame the victim without leaving fingerprints by outsourcing the smear to the private sector.

Trent Lott joked in a meeting yesterday that Mr. Cheney was now the “shooter in chief,” while other wags noted that Quayle was always a problem for Bushes.

Presidential staff members and lawmakers speculated yesterday about whether Shooter would resign and make room for Condi if Mr. Whittington did not survive. His death would trigger a more thorough police investigation and probably a grand jury.

“Are you crazy?” one Republican senator told a reporter. “He’d never quit.” (Aaron Burr presided over the Senate after he killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel.)

The shooter in chief can’t quit because he is the administration. Who’d even tell him to quit? If necessary, he’d probably make W. take the fall.

Despite efforts by Mr. McClellan to joke and urge reporters to get back to “the pressing priorities of the American people,” the hunting debacle once more showed Mr. Cheney running the imperial show.

He didn’t talk to the sheriff for 14 hours, or even call the president to notify him after the 5:50 p.m. accident. Vice left that to Andy Card, who called Mr. Bush at 7:30 p.m. to say there had been a hunting accident, without mentioning that Vice was the gunman. Soon after that, Karl Rove called Mr. Bush back with that little detail.

A reporter, surprised, pressed Mr. McClellan: “The vice president did not call the president to tell him he was the shooter?”

Usually when there’s a White House cover-up, the president’s in on it.

The Discussion: 24 Comments

Clinton administration was pimped out.
Bush administration is thugged out

February 15, 2006 @ 2:58 am | Comment

Excellent remark, Shiller. No wonder the right-wingers didn’t give Tookie Williams a pardon, he would have been a formidable adversary.

February 15, 2006 @ 8:13 am | Comment

Personally, I think this whole thing has been over-blown.

Yes, it was just as much Cheney’s fault for not knowing his target as it was Whittington’s fault for not announcing his presence. Unfortunately incidents like this are all too common when hunting fowl.

I give a thumbs up to the department of natural resources for citing him for failure to aquire the proper stamps, but I as usual I think the media is blowing things out of proportion regarding the incident not being reported immediately.


February 15, 2006 @ 9:00 am | Comment

Clinton administration was pimped out.
Bush administration is thugged out

True indeed. Clinton gets a little play and is less than forthright about it and he’s impeached. Cheney nearly ices some dude and tries to put a heavy spin on it and the Republicans make lame puns about it. I sense a double-standard here.

February 15, 2006 @ 9:56 am | Comment

MoDo NAILS it again!

President Bush is in his glory right now. He has been able to host the University of Texas Football team at the White House. When Bush talks sports it is the only time the Yale cheerleader is truly in his element. He is the embodiment of America’s misplaced priorities. The United States is going to have to hit ROCK BOTTOM before the disengaged, foolish electorate learn not to vote against their self interest by putting those they “identify with” or would like to go have a beer with in office. Until America values intelligence and knowledge over athletic ability, we are DOOMED.

February 15, 2006 @ 10:22 am | Comment

The message is clear. Illegal mass killing is Gods will. Blowjobs are immoral.God Bless America!!!!!

February 15, 2006 @ 12:16 pm | Comment

I wonder if we can get Hitlery Clinton to go hunting with Dick Cheney?

February 15, 2006 @ 2:03 pm | Comment

please make a list of the “Hitlerish” things Hillary Clinton has done that compare with lying us into a war, institutionalizing torture and trashing the Constitution.

BTW, I am not a clinton fan in the least.

February 15, 2006 @ 3:46 pm | Comment

ROFL, Cheney’s going to be taken to the cleaners by this guy (or is family if God-forbid he dies).

Personally I would like to see him press charges for battery (or would it be actual bodily harm?) 😀

February 15, 2006 @ 4:04 pm | Comment

Lets all try to remember that Cheney’s considered the brains behind this whole administration!

February 15, 2006 @ 4:23 pm | Comment

oh common guys, it was just a lawyer…There’s plenty more where that one came from….

February 15, 2006 @ 4:27 pm | Comment

thanks again for posting Maureen Dowd’s column. The best


February 15, 2006 @ 4:45 pm | Comment

It’s too bad they weren’t both more drunk and carrying lots more ammunition.

February 15, 2006 @ 5:50 pm | Comment

Lawyers are one of the few defenses left against the corporate thuggery now overwhelming us. Overblown? Yeah Gordy I bet if it was AlGore you wouldn’t be so cavalier. Besides this isn’t like a regular hunting party. You know damn well there would be secret service and others all over the hell.And I don’t give a crap if he was announced or not one of the first things I learned from my dad as a young boy was you NEVER shoot unless you know what you’re shooting at. Now I don’t believe Dick shot him on purpose so that would mean he did not follow one of the most basic rules of hunting. But I guess when you’re hunting back room deals those rules don’t count.

February 15, 2006 @ 6:14 pm | Comment

Oh yeah..speaking of the Clinton .. will you be covering this one any time soon, Richard?

February 15, 2006 @ 6:22 pm | Comment

Nice try, changing the subject, Gordon. Sure I’ll be blogging about it, once I know the story. Who know, the media may just be making this up, right?

February 15, 2006 @ 6:26 pm | Comment

When in doubt, distract attention towards Clinton.

“George, who chopped down the cherry tree?” “Father, I cannot tell a lie. Bill Clinton did it.”

February 15, 2006 @ 6:28 pm | Comment

Jake, chill. Obviously you missed the sarcasm.

Richard, that’s the response I expected.

Jump on any story fresh off the press when it involves the current administration, but whoa nelly, take your time and find the facts when it comes to Clinton.

I’ll stop there.

February 15, 2006 @ 6:36 pm | Comment

Ivan, works like a charm every time. Just ask Gordon. 🙂

Gordon, I hadn’t seen that story yet. Patience, dear lad. Why you would post it here in an irrelevant thread is beyond me. (Not really; in fact, it’s painfully obvious.)

February 15, 2006 @ 6:42 pm | Comment

Actually Richard, I sort of lost track of the topic…as you noticed.

My last comment on the thread above didn’t even make an ounce of sense when I tried to read it after posting…arrgghh

February 15, 2006 @ 6:54 pm | Comment

Republicans are easily confused.

February 15, 2006 @ 7:38 pm | Comment

As opposed to Democrats who are just completely clueless?

February 15, 2006 @ 8:35 pm | Comment

Gordon, a great mind is a terrible thing to waste. Please turn off Fox News. 🙂

February 15, 2006 @ 10:04 pm | Comment

Thursday PR blog: Blam! Oops!

Both barrels?

Imagethief will remain aloof from the petty,
partisan assaults on Vice President…

February 16, 2006 @ 4:33 am | Comment

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