Busy couple of days, no question there. So it goes something like this, the man Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot on his live animal skeet shoot expedition has just had a small heart attack caused by a pellet lodged in his heart. I don't want to be overly negative, but having been shot in the face, suffered a heart attack and being 78 years old does not a bright future make. Why bring up this rather distasteful opinion? It seems clear to me that Cheney had absolutely no intention of reporting this event to the public to begin with. Or at least not reporting it until some way to gloss it over could be found.
Yes, yes. Conspiracy theory, I know. Even if he had intended on informing the public there was clearly some shenanigans going on, because the way things played just don't make any sense. You know, I was the first to roll my eyes watching the press grill McCellan during the briefing about delays in reporting the incident. It seemed odd the way information had been disseminated, or not, in this case, but it still seemed like reporters trying to create a scandal. Consider this, however. This event, while unfortunate, constitutes a major PR disaster for the Vice President, and from the past behaviour of this administration it seems clear that it would have at least been recognized as such. This isn't to ascribe anything negative just by acknowledging such. But that accompanied by the suggestion that the Vice President consciously decided to allow an independent 3rd party describe the event to a local paper rather than issue a carefully prepared release to the press through standard channels is absolutely absurd. To follow this path of dissemination willingly would be bush league for a Sunday School bake sale organizer let alone the single most well oiled press interface in America.
So why did they do it?
The Vice President spoke with Mrs. Katherine Armstrong and they agreed that she should make that information public. She was an eyewitness, she saw what occurred and she called her local paper to provide those facts to the local paper. And the Vice President's Office was ready to comment on it at that point.
-- Scott McCellan, February 13, 2006 Press Briefing
There you go. Only, shortly thereafter Mrs. Armstrong said explicitly that so far as she had known, the Vice President's Office was NOT aware of her informing the local paper. (I wish I could find the quote, damn.) When questioned further the explanation became that she was told directly by the Vice President and presumably not in conjunction with his Office.
The question becomes then, when, and indeed if the Vice President had intended to release this information to the press himself before Mrs. Armstrong blew the situation by telling the local press. Once the story got out, a half-baked story is released about how the Vice President of the United States of America's accidental shooting of a fellow 'hunter' would be released to the press under the careful auspice of Mrs. Katherine Armstrong, ranch owner. Read that again. It doesn't make the slightest sense. Immediately after it filtered back into the White House that the story was out the press secretary starts dancing to explain why it took 22 hours for word to get circulating.
The sarcastic in me feels like pointing out that it IS possible that even with the Vice President doing the shooting there's historical precedent for extreme and irrationally slow information propagation in the White House. Think Katrina.
Of course, this is all just theory and there's no way to find out one way or the other if the VP was intending to eventually tell the public, or if indeed it was a massive brain stall on his part and he DID decide to place his post accidental shooting personal image in the hands of a quail rancher. Certainly something feels fishy here. But since we can't hope to actually know the truth, lets just watch Jon Stewart and feel better knowing that while Cheney may have 'peppered' an old man in the face with birdshot, at least Cheney has had a couple days of discomfort, and he STILL needs to "suffer" through making a public statement at some point or another.