Saturday, February 18, 2006

Cheney drinks, shoots, and leaves

It is now almost a week since the incident in which vice-president Dick Cheney shot a fellow hunter in the face. For a while the condition of the victim, Harry Whittington, was serious. He has now been released from the hospital, disfigured. In a remarkable display of abjection, Whittington has apologized for causing Cheney trouble. That plea merits the adjective aptly applied to Fred Barnes' apologia for Bush: fellatial.

There are some suggestive similarities with the Vince Foster case. Foster, a lawyer working in the Clinton White House who suffered from depression, killed himself on July 20, 1993, in Fort Marcy Park in northern Virginia. It was alleged that before Foster’s office could be sealed, Clinton operatives removed certain documents. The perception of discrepancies in the Foster death and the way it was handled allowed all sorts of fantastic speculation to arise about the possibility of murder, moving the body, and so forth.

Likewise, in this case the talk will go on. Anyone who has the slightest acquaintance with British murder mysteries on PBS knows that it is not good procedure to leave the guests in the country house by themselves all night to concoct a story. You interview them before they have had time to conspire.

At the Texas ranch, we know of one concoction. Evidently sticking to a collective story, Armstrong and Whittington affirmed that no alcohol was consumed at lunch. Cheney, though, departed from the script, admitting that he had had a beer. I suppose he could have concealed it under his protective gear, so that Armstrong and Whittingdon didn’t see, but the most likely conclusion is that Armstrong and Whittington were lying. Reputedly Cheney was thrown out of Yale for drinking. He has two drunken driving incidents on his record. Unlike his boss, Cheney has never stopped drinking. Indeed, he "mixed himself a drink" after the shooting incident.

On that fatal Friday when was the beer consumed? If it was downed by one o'clock, fine, I gusee. If Cheney continued the imbibing until three PM or so, not fine. Also (shades of Clinton's "is" testimony), what is "a beer"? A friend with a drinking problem thinks that a 24 oz. is a small beer--a "normal" one is 40 oz. Cheney has lots of enemies, even (or especially) among Republicans.

These people are not going to desist because of two statements to the media, by Cheney and Bush respectively. Cheney is guilty of many things, most glaringly his relentless insistence on the Iraq invasion and occupation. In that sense the shooting is symbolic. He has sent thousands of young Americans to die or be maimed in the Middle East. For those victims he has shown no remorse. Cheney has not been good for the national interest. He should be held to account. So far he has not been. But in the end we may face a case of Al Capone being nailed for income-tax evasion.

I hope they go for it.

PS An acquaintance notes that some drinkers do not consider beer alcoholic, reserving the A word for such hard stuff as vodka or whisky. How does that play when one is pulled ovdeer for drunken driving. Armed with that excuse I can't wait for TGIF time. I’ll have beer for lunch, and then go out for a spin. Oh, but I don’t drive. Well, I can always grab a gun and shoot somebody. I don't have a gun, so I guess a knife will have to do. Drinking? "No I only had a soft drink. You know—beer."

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