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Cheney’s Killer Rabbit

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The Cheney shooting is just a tragic, relatively minor accident. It’s getting huge coverage for two reasons: “Vice president shoots lawyer” makes good copy, and his handling of the aftermath was, frankly, mystifying.

But for students of media bias, I wouldn’t look at the media frenzy through a liberal or conservative lens. Instead, consider another past victim of the same phenomenon: President Jimmy Carter.

In 1979, Carter found himself embroiled in a flap over his encounter with a “killer rabbit”. That story was similarly blown out of proportion by the press (the Washington Post ran a front-page headline that declared “President attacked by rabbit”).

All that aside, here are some thoughts on the subject:

1. Cheney apparently shot *behind* the hunting line, not in front of it. That was always pretty much a no-no when I was growing up. The whole *point* of a line is that nobody wanders into somebody else’s sights. Approaching from behind is supposed to be the safe zone.

2. Waiting 18 hours to report the incident (after a good night’s sleep and everything) illustrates Cheney’s reflexive secrecy — and also illustrates why such secrecy is stupid and self-defeating. Apparently McClellan pleaded with Cheney and the administration to go public, in detail, as soon as he found out about it. He knew what this would look like.

3. Cheney strongly defends the idea that quietly releasing the story to the local paper was the proper response. That’s just plain stupid. He’s the vice-president of the United States. What happens to him is national news, not local trivia. If we can’t count on the administration to tell us when stuff like this happens we can’t count on them to come clean about bigger things, either.

None of this adds up to a big deal, but the way Cheney handled it reflects some of the least-flattering parts of his personality.

As for other details:

1. The fact that Cheney was missing a $7 stamp is a nonissue. His staff asked the state, and the state got it wrong. Cheney did not apparently get special treatment in that regard.

2. Any speculation about drinking (of which there has been a surprising amount) is a nonissue unless actual evidence pops up.

3. I’m glad the victim appears to be recovering nicely.

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About Sean Aqui

  • Bliffle

    What puzzles me is how birdshot could penetrate a vest, shirt, flesh and ribs, to get near the heart.

  • I had a discussion of this with a bunch of hunter/physicists last night and they agreed with my initial assessment, that it has to have entered a blood vessel near the surface and been sucked into the heart through the circulatory system. Kind of a freak occurance, but a former navy medic confirmed that he’d seen it happen with shrapnel.


  • Bliffle

    The shotgun, reportedly, was an italian 28 ga with 7 1/2 shot (pretty light stuff for a Big Bold Brave War Hawk, ehh?) and one report says the victim was much closer than the 30 yards cited. I suspect that is the truth: victim was just a few yards away.

  • Dave Nalle

    Seriously, Bliffle? A 28 gage? Whittington would have had to be closer than 30 yards. At 30 yards a 28 gage wouldn’t be powerful enough to even break the skin.


  • Justin Berry

    Cant understand why this is such a big issue. It was clearly an accident. If I am involved in an accident I decide who I tell and when. The vice president has that same right. The fact that he does not kow-tow to the media irks the hell out of the media and gives his enemies a platform to further their agenda of bringing down the Administation.

    Almost everyone who has bird hunted on public land has been peppered at one time or another. I was peppered this year, it didnt break the skin but now I have done my duty and notified the world.

  • gonzo marx

    actually, ALL gunshot wounds have to be reported to the local police department immediately

    ALL hospitals are required to follow this Federal Law

    try again


  • Booze detector

    I’m a boozer

    I’m a boozer
    I’m a boozer
    And I’m not as honest as I need to be

    Of all the power I’ve welded or have skipped
    There’s one power I should never have sipped
    It was six pack of Hams my friend
    I should have known it would win in the end

    I’m a boozer and I’m not as honest as I need to be
    I’m a boozer and I’m covering my ass so you won’t see

    Although I stoneface and gleam like an alpha male
    Beneath this stature I’m leaving messes that soon smell
    My beers are cold and smooth going down
    I’ll do my best to shape the news going round

  • actually, ALL gunshot wounds have to be reported to the local police department immediately

    ALL hospitals are required to follow this Federal Law

    Yes, gonzo. But this is a requirement on the hospital, not on the people involved. And if I got hit by a couple of stray pellets and could dig them out with my pocket knife and put a bandaid on the wounds I would be under no obligation to go report it to anyone.