Four days after blasting 78-year-old hunting partner Harry Whittington in the face, neck and chest with birdshot, vice president Dick Cheney emerged from his fortified bunker to make a snarling, unapologetic taped announcement to Fox News' Brit Hume that basically amounted to what he did on his own time was his own business. Dick said shooting Harry the previous Saturday was one of the worst days of his life -- which is quite an admission considering the fate of those who have been in Dick's crosshairs over the years.
Harry, no longer Dick's friend but a mere "acquaintance," emerged from the hospital two days later to apologize to the media for the delay he had caused by having an operation, a heart attack and a shotgun pellet in his heart. Harry begged Dick and his family to forgive him for the trouble he and his family had caused them. "We all assume certain risks in whatever we do, whatever activities we pursue," Harry said. "And regardless of how experienced, careful and dedicated we are, accidents do and will happen -- and that's what happened last Friday..."
Last Friday? Now -- if you're a reporter, wouldn't you be a teeny bit interested in whether the shooting occurred on Friday rather than Saturday? Wouldn't you wonder why it took three hours to get Harry to a hospital 20 minutes away when Dick's ambulance was on the scene, why it took four days -- perhaps five -- for Dick to go public? Perhaps it would even cross your mind that Dick might be waiting to see which story he should peddle. If Harry died, he could send ranch owner Katharine Armstrong out to say she had seen it all and it was poor, dead Harry's fault. If he survived, Dick would suck it in and somberly tell a sympathetic Hume -- "Ultimately I'm the guy who pulled the trigger that fired the round that hit Harry..."
But even then, Dick and Katharine couldn't keep their stories straight. Katharine first said she was sitting in a car and wasn't aware of an accident until she saw the Secret Service guys running toward the group. Then she remembered she was right there at Dick's elbow and saw the whole thing, a bonafide eye-witness and the only one qualified to deal with the media. According to Katharine, there was "zero, zippo" drinking that day, but then she remembered there might have been a "few" beers consumed, and even Dick admitted he "popped a top" at the pre-hunt barbeque.
Members of the press corps might wonder why Dick chose to return to the house and fix himself a cocktail rather than accompany his victim to the hospital. They might also be interested in comments made by Dick's Secret Service agents who say Dick was "clearly inebriated" when he bagged Harry. Capitol Hill Blue's Doug Thompson reports, "According to those who have talked with the agents and others present at the outing, Cheney was drunk when he gunned down his friend and the day-and-a-half delay in allowing Texas law enforcement officials on the ranch where the shooting occurred gave all members of the hunting party time to sober up."
Thompson says the agents reported that members of the hunting party, including Dick, consumed alcohol "before and during the hunting expedition," and their report also noted that "Cheney exhibited 'visible signs' of impairment, including slurred speech and erratic actions."
But reporters don't ask such questions in Dick's world. Those who are not house-broken are, at a minimum, paper-trained. They don't ask questions in the house or even close to the house for fear of tracking the resulting mess in on the rug. Their yapping and barking on-camera at White House press secretary Scott McClellan concerned just one issue -- they should have been told first. "We have cell phones," they wailed. "We have Blackberries! We're the press corps -- we should have been given the story before a local newspaper!"
There's a big difference between being "given" a script to copy and hitting the investigative trail to dig up what really happened. Apparently, no one in the mainstream media dared question Dick's final taped account. Not one questioned the 14-hour delay in the Kenedy County Sheriff's Department getting access to Dick nor wondered why the Sheriff would send a deputy to dutifully jot down Dick's account and take depositions from other parties without asking pertinent questions about alcohol consumption, or why Dick can't get it straight whether he "turned right," as he said several times, or "counter-clockwise" as he is saying now.
While reporters were frenziedly chasing their tails, Internet reporter Joseph Ehrlich wrote an excellent piece wherein he addressed both questions and answers in this tangled affair. Ehrlich meticuously laid out the timeline, the elaborate behind-the-scenes machinations, and Dick and Katharine's ridiculous efforts to cover up what actually occurred, to include having the Secret Service bump the time of the shooting to 5:50 PM to put the sun in Dick's eyes when he pulled the trigger. Ehrlich even quotes Harry's daughter who, in a strange revelation, said that after her father was shot, he lay there for such a long time "he was unsure whether he was being taken to the hospital or the morgue."
Such a ghoulish remark is more than passing strange, yet the media failed to pick up on it. Little attention has been given to poor Harry other than he is a 78-year-old Austin attorney, and the victim of yet another Dick Cheney "accident."
In truth, Harry, like those with whom he cavorts, is a multi-millionaire, and a major Republican player and donor. Bush appointed Harry to chair the Texas regulatory Funeral Service Commission in 1999, just in time to force the commission to settle a whistleblower lawsuit shortly before the 2000 election. Harry managed to keep Bush out of the courts and out of jail in the burgeoning Funeralgate scandal that theatened to engulf not only Bush but Robert Waltrip, owner of Service Corportion International (SCI), the largest funeral corporation in Texas; Joe Albaugh, Bush crony, campaign manager and former FEMA director; Texas Attorney General (now Senator) John Cornyn; and, of course, Bush counsel (now U.S. Attorney General) Alberto Gonzales.
Dick's world is an incestuous world whose core is Texas power and money -- lots of it. As Sydney Blumenthal writes in Salon, both Dick and Karl Rove literally owe their present positions to Katharine and her family. "Anne Armstrong, Katharine's mother, was on the board of Halliburton that made Dick Cheney its chief executive officer," Blumenthal said. "Tobin Armstrong, Katharine's father, financed Karl Rove & Co., Rove's political consulting firm." Blumenthal says Katharine is a lobbyist for Houston law firm Baker Botts, founded in the 19th Century by the family of James A. Baker, former secretary of state, Poppy Bush's buddy and the architect of the 2000 presidential coup d'etat that gave the presidency to Bush and Dick.
The people who inhabit Dick's world possess such power they can silence an entire White House press corps in mid-yelp -- such arrogance they can turn away law enforcement officers and delay an investigation until a more convenient time, even though a man has been shot in the face. Bill Moyers, formerly of PBS, now President of the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy, very succinctly sums them up...
"It is a Dick Cheney world out there," Moyers writes, "--a world where politicians and lobbyists hunt together, dine together, drink together, play together, pray together and prey together, all the while carving up the world according to their own interests."