Dick Cheney Needs A New Hunting Buddy
In light of Washington’s birthday (Feb 22), we should note that for generations American schoolchildren were force-fed the fable of George Washington fessing up to chopping down his father’s cherry tree in a spurt of axe-testing enthusiasm.
Supposedly when poppa Washington sought the identity of the cherry- culling-culprit, his son came clean.
“I cannot tell a lie. It was I who chopped down the cherry tree, Washington reportedly said, copping to the cherry-cide. While likely untrue, the story was long trotted out as proof of Washington’s willingness to stand behind his actions.
Today we have a vice president who took another approach to personal accountability. Vice President Dick Cheney,65, took his sweet time acknowledging he had felled not a cherry tree, but Austin attorney Harry Whittington, 78 while quail hunting in south Texas.
The story first focused on Whittington’s actions. The New York Times reported on February 13 that Cheney shot Whittington when Whittington failed to announce his return to the group. The Saturday accident wasn’t made public until Sunday, when ranch owner Katherine Armstrong called the Corpus Christ Caller-Times.
You’d think Cheney would have learned from both the cherry chopping chops of George Washington and the harrowing example of former President William Jefferson Clinton. Clinton’s Thonggate demonstrated the painful consequences of not quickly owning up to your actions.
During the depth of Clinton’s disgrace, my father often said that the fuss over Clinton’s relations with Miss Thong Thang wouldn have been so severe had Clinton quickly admitted his misdeeds. I agree with him. Rather than publicly declaring “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky,” we would’ve been better off if Clinton had quickly apologized for his office shenanigans, pleaded forgiveness from his wife and kept Ken Starr out of his sex life.
It’s the same with Cheney. After shooting Whittington, if only Cheney had called a Sunday morning press conference at the Corpus Christi hospital. He ought to have shown up with representatives of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and turned this incident into a tiresome gun safety message.
To really distract attention from the incident, Cheney might have conjured up, say, a million-dollar grant from the NRA to bring the message of hunting safety to schoolchildren, especially schoolchildren who live in areas where world leaders walk around with firearms.
From a fashion perspective, Cheney could have even appeared all last week in D.C. in the aesthetically painful blaze orange hunters wear to increase visibility. He could have gotten color maestro Isaac Mizrahi to design a blaze-orange line for Target, perhaps with over-the-top assistance from Project Runway winner Jay McCarroll. Then we could all go back to the real tragedies in society, like NBC Today Show hosts Matt Lauer and Al Roker covering the Olympic luge in spandex body suits
I suspect this sad hunting accident happened now for a reason. Cases of bird flu(H5N1) are daily creeping closer to the United States. Perhaps the quelling of quantities of quail by well-heeled duffers is the backbone our national bird flu defense? If so, my psychic powers tell me that someone in the hunting party uttered the words “bird flew” as Whittington was returning to the group. Maybe Cheney overreacted by peppering his pal with plenty of poultry pounding pellets?
I understand the desire for sport hunting and I even had a hunting license in high school. Yet anyone careless enough to shoot a fellow hunter should have their hunting license limited to falconry.
Cheney would like hunting with a bird of prey. It was originally reported that the accident resulted from poor communication between Cheney and Whittington, but there shouldn’t be communication gaps between Cheney and his hawk. They’d understand each other in an unspoken bond of kindred hearts.
On their website, falconry outfitter Northwoods Falconry in Rainier, Washington asks potential falconers this:
“Will you, and can you, commit part of your waking hours to a creature who at the very best of times will merely tolerate your presence, is as affectionate as a stone, and at the worst of times will cause you heartache and puncture wounds?”
If so, Cheney should bond with his bird of prey. Following Whittington’s pellet-prompted heart attack, Cheney literally caused his friend heartache and puncture wounds.