Nimrod Was Actually A Good Hunter…

There’s not much I can say about Vice President Cheney’s dumb accident?

Well, for starters, it’s simple; as a shooter, you own everything that goes downrange.There’s nothing else to say; yes Whittington was wrong to walk away from the shooting party without everyone going ‘guns down.’ When I’ve gone field bird shooting, I’ve gone in groups of three or four, and we were all careful to stay in line, not break a 90-degree wedge in front of us. When someone had to leave the line – usually to go answer a call of nature – we all went guns down and wait, usually mocking the absentee.

But Cheney pulled the trigger.

A couple of comments. The press account says that Whittington was wounded in the chest, neck, and face; assume he’s a normal sized guy, that’s about 12″ – 14″. So the minimum distance is probably 8 – 10 yards, since an improved choke patterns to about that size. I think that’s too small a distance – at that range, Whittington would have been hit by most of the load of 200 – 300 pellets. My guess is that he was probably 15 – 20 yards away; at 30 yards or more, I’d say winter clothes would have blocked the small birdshot pellets – so no wounds to the chest – so he was likely closer than that.

But Cheney pulled the trigger.

Having pulled the trigger, there’s just no freaking justification for the evasion of the press. It’s a recurring theme; the Administration is awesome at controlling the message; not so good at learning how to use the press to actually connect with the American people.

And we’ll go right ahead and wait for the inevitable jokes about Cheney shooting a man in Texas just to see him die.

27 thoughts on “Nimrod Was Actually A Good Hunter…”

  1. AL, I don’t think it was evasion that motivated them. It was giving the scoop to a local reporter. Whether that included a supplemental motivation to ignore the WHPC, I can only guess, yes.

    In any event this was hardly an evasion. And I’d have to say the WH connected with me by handling it this way (not to mention that doing so sent the WHPC into an apopletic fit because they didn’t get first dibs.)

  2. Yes, because if I accidentally shot a guy on a hunting trip, the first thing I’d do is rush out and tell the media. Yeah, yeah, I know, a Vice President is different from the rest of us, but still.

    It’s early February, and I’m calling this a contender for the biggest non-issue of 2006.

  3. I’m waiting for the discussion of the best guage for lawyer-shot.

    Seriously, this was an unfortunate accident but by no means an unusual one, especially in rough terrain and heavy brush. Which is why all in all I see this as Williamson’s error rather than Cheney’s, if blame has to be assigned.

    I remember having field discipline drummed into me by my dad when I was a kid and although I don’t hunt any more, when I ended up serving as a marshall at a spaniel field trial a few years ago I automatically found myself observing save lines etc. Apparently Williamson went off without letting anyone know and approached from the side rather than straight behind Cheny when he returned. Not a good idea in an open field and really not a good idea in brush.

  4. That’s right. Anybody who’s even *vaguely* been related to hunting has had this drilled into their heads since they were six.

    I seriously think the news was delayed b/c Cheney could hear the psychic noise of millions of his otherwise approving constituents thinking “you dumbass.”

    A lot of the AM-radio crowd lost serious respect for me by defending this as no big deal. It’s not a big deal… but it’s still a stupid, pointless, moron mistake, and he deserves to catch “Jimmy Carter and the Rabbit”-level mockery for it.

  5. Bird lines or no bird lines, you are trying to tell me that the VP was walking around w/ armed men whom weren’t the SS and some guy walked up behind the VP w/ a shotgun. There absolutely has to be a protocol to keep someone from behind the VP.
    This is a pure an simple cock up on a number of levels.
    From a political point of view it is not a non event because it keeps going to the level of competence and willingness on the part of this administration to just do what it damn well pleases. Russ is right

  6. I wouldn’t be surprised about that Ann comment, Joe. I presume you are being sarcastic b/c there’s no link, but as a Jeane Dixonism, you’ll be spot on quite soon.

    Not being a hunter, I am curious how often that kind of thing happens. I imagine there are a lot of those ‘can you believe it’ and “what a dumbass’ stories told in the evening get-togethers. I watched Lehrer last night — they interviewed Jaime Powell, the reporter who broke the story — and they got her to mention that she is a hunter (dove not quail) and also that she has been at the wrong end of bird shot once. So, where is this on the rare to frequent bar graph?

    Anyway, I’ll note that Powell said she is a close friend of the Armstrong family. That tends to reinforce my view that the way it was brought public was for the purpose of handing out a scoop. Powell’s story which came out sometime mid-day of it happening noted Whittington was up and joking with hospital staff and visitors.

    It seems to me this event went from “OH, NO!”, to “This is kind of funny” fairly quickly, at least among the folks close to the event. It’s certainly a far cry from the “Whittington was in intensive care” line that I heard two nightly news broadcasts put out.

  7. Assigning blame in situations like this is one of the most pointless activities that humans engage in. Like most incidents of ‘friendly fire’ – heck like most traffic accidents – it required two people to do stupid things in order for thier to be a screw up. But so what. Even if it didn’t, assigning blame or deciding who is at most to blame is a pointless exercise. What matters is not repeating the mistake. My bet is that both men take full responcibility for the accident. To do less would be unmanly.

    Blame assignment as an excercise has more to do with reducing ones accountablity and responcibility than it has to do with fixing the problem. If you want to have a series of short failed unhappy mariages, take my advice. Any time a problem happens, be careful to make sure that all the blame for the error is carefully assigned. Make a big deal of figuring out who screwed up, and laying the blame on that person. Pointless, and destructive.

    My guess is that this ultimately will fall into the category of “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.” If no permanent damage was done, then this will ultimately fall into the category of ‘good war stories’, and ‘manly scars to display’, and will in a year or two be something that you joke about around the fire.

  8. I should like to point out that I think that there is a parallel in the media-wide rush to figure out who is to blame for this shooting accident and the irresponcible responce of the MSM to Hurricane Katrina. In both cases, there was a rush to find people to blame. Such activity is pointless, and in the case of Katrina utterly irresponcible, because it utterly avoids the real issue at stake – how do we make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.

    In the case of the MSM narrative about Hurricane Kartrina, the heart of the narrative is that it was FEMA (and the encompasing Department of Homeland Security), and most specifically it was persons – Chertoff and Brown – who were to blame.

    This misses the point entirely, and makes it seem as if the simple decision to get rid of Chertoff ad Brown (and by extension the Bush administration) would fix the problem. The corrallary of this narrative is the myth (there is no other way to describe it) that FEMA was working properly under Clinton – and by implication that Katrina wouldn’t have happened were Clinton (or at least a Democrat) was in office today. In fact, some go so far as to blame not merely the Hurricane responce on Bush, but on Bush’s climate policies, as if had Gore been in office not only would the responce have been better but the Hurricane would have never happened. Lest you think that this is a fringe nutcase view, I’m specifically thinking of the senior editor of the journal Science.

    In my opinion, the whole exercise of assigning blame is an emotion driven one – not a logical one. Logically, the culpability with the Katrina disasters is distributed over a very large number of people and the Army Corp of Engineers would seem to be a good place to start. An investigation into that would reveal any number of political factors which led to the design of original levy system, and that the Army Corp of Engineers long ago turned the administration of the levies over to the city of New Orleans which in turn turned over its responcibility to a bunch of unelected levy boards who used thier authority often as not as a means of lining thier own pockets. A serious look at why what went wrong went so wrong would note the woeful underfunding of intrastructure in our society. It would note that the cost of making stronger levies is far lower than the cost of cleaning up the mess Katrina left behind. It would note decades of mismanged funds, and inadequate funding and denial. It would note that maintaining existing infrastructure isn’t ‘sexy’ and doesn’t get alot of votes, and that much of the infrastructure money that should have been put into levies ended up going into pork barrel ‘make work’ projects like bridges to nowhere, canals no one uses, and so forth that again – primarily serves to enrich supporters pockets and make big visible projects for the encumbant to point to as his contribution to the local economy. And any serious look at the problems in the aftermath of Katrina would note that we are a democracy these budget priorities unfortunately often as not reflect the real will of the people. The difference between such an investigation and blame assignment is that the former is focused on figuring out how to fixthings – were blame assignment is focused on figuring out which scapegoat to crucify. Not suprisingly, people will tend to pick the person they like the least, or have the least emotional investment in – rather than necessarily who really is in a position to fix things in the future.

    Blame assignment is all about figuring out who did what wrong. Taking responcibility is all about figuring out what you can do to keep it from happening again. Blame assignment focuses on the person. Taking responcibility focuses on ideas and actions. The two ideas may seem similar, but in practice they are as different as the ideas of ‘shame’ and ‘guilt’. At its extreme, blame becomes about making not the statement that decisions or ideas lack value, but that the person themselves lacks value. This is a recipe for getting nothing done. For example, any time something goes wrong in China, entire chains of command get blamed and axed, but nothing is done to improve the situation its just a ritual cycle of responcibility cleansing designed to appease people’s anger. Worse, as a result of all of this, everyone spends most of thier time covering up problems so that they won’t get ‘blamed’ for them. In America, we call it ‘ass covering’ and its a deadly obsession for a bureacracy to have.

    I’m for one getting sick and tired of this obsession with blame. I should be very happy to never hear the word ‘blame’ again. It’s one of the least useful words in the English language.

    As it is, I have no hope that we as a people will do anything effective to prevent such disasters occuring in the future, whether Katrina or 9/11 or Pearl Harbor. America doesn’t learn its lesson, because its not interested in the past or the facts, but in having someone to dislike so that you are not obligated to do anything.

  9. The story has legs due to it being an easy metaphor.
    They used the locals becasue they own the locals.
    No minor “peppering” leaves you in the hospital ICU for two days and an extended stay for many days more.
    These “hunting trips” are booze fuled junkets.
    These junkets do noy include hiking through “rough bush” over uneven terrain, they invlove putting your beer down in the cup holder, getting out of the Suburban and walking a few yards to a covy of farm raised birds.
    The VP was drunk and they needed time to clear his system and formulate a “muddy the waters” campagain.
    Trust me, you will continue to hear about this stupid story.

  10. Max #11: Let me guess, it’s not the evidence which is important but the seriousness of the charge?

    Have you ever been on one of these hunting trips? Have you ever been on a hunting trip at all? Do you hunt? Do you know the Vice President personally, that you can attest to his habit of over indulging? Have you been to the land that they hunt on? Do you have any evidence whatsoever?

    Look, its not like Cheney has a reputation for being a notorious lush that might make one suspicious here. In fact, this White House is someone famous for offering guests alchohol but not taking any themselves. George Bush, who did once have such a reputation, now takes plain grape juice at state dinners for crying out loud.

  11. Best line of the day.

    And the winner is::

    “After the next rounds of negotiations with Ahmadinejad, as a display of solidarity and respect, Condi Rice will invite him to hunt doves with Vice President Cheney at his Texas ranch.”

    Second place:

    “I’d rather be dove hunting with Dick Cheney than riding in a car driven by Ted Kennedy”

    (OK, so maybe it wasn’t that good, but I love bashing Kennedy.)


  12. I’m a bit more offended by the canned hunting he’s done on trips previous. Something about that practice that’s just wrong on a very deep level.

  13. SAO #14: “I’m a bit more offended by the canned hunting he’s done on trips previous. Something about that practice that’s just wrong on a very deep level.”

    ‘Canned hunting’ is a really complex issue. On a purely ecological level, canned hunting is more moral than ordinary wild game hunting. You will never hunt a species which is ‘canned hunted’ to extinction, or hunt a population to the point that it ceases to exist regionally – either of which you can easily do (and has been done) with wild game birds. One could argue that ‘canned hunting’ represents responcible hunting, since it doesn’t pressure birds in the little remaining wild habitat that they have.

    On one level, a canned hunting facility is simply a stockyard, and no more or less moral than a herd of beef awaiting slaughter. But there is a big difference, in that in slaughter houses we usually go to some length to reduce the fear and suffering that animals experience before becoming say sirloin – and I think that it is right that we should do so. On the other hand, the fear and suffering that an animal experiences in a canned hunting facility is certainly not greater than experienced in the wild, and arguably less so as any hunter will be able to tell you about shooting an animal only to discover that it had formerly been wounded by a hunter and escaped. Every good hunter I know lives in fear of just wounding an animal. Nothing is less heartening than hitting an animal with a less than mortal wound and having to track it down to finish the job. I think we all want to make clean hits. Both clean hits and tracking down wounded animals are easier in a canned setting.

    But that said, I agree with you that there is something that still strikes me as rather wrong about ‘canned hunting’ on a deep level. It’s the sort of thing that boils up out of my spine, gut, and heart – not a logical thing. After analyzing my feelings, my best approximation for the cause is that I’m offended by the lack of respect for the animal that canned hunting shows. No true sportsman fails to admire the animal he hunts. Blasting away at what are essentially domestic animals and using them for gratouitous target practice, is for me a chilling lack of respect for the fact that the target is a living organism (and I say this as a guy with no problems dealing with the existance of my inner carnivore). Shooting something unleashes the lizard brain and its a rush and I’ve no problem with that, but I do have a problem with what appears to be an immoderate addiction to that rush. Repeatedly stimulating your lizard brain in order to get high just seems dangerous to me. It’s like the difference between a responsible sexual relationship and prostitution or pornography. They are both basicly sex, but there is alot more going on than that, and I don’t feel at all bad in celebrating one but despising the other.

  14. Celebrim
    Can be- see WMD etal
    Yes, Yes, Yes, No, No, see above and infer from what little evidence has come out.
    It isnt about Cheney being a lush, it is the fact that the trips are nortoriuos for involving drinking.
    In fact, I would be surprised if he had more than one or two beers. But at his age and with the variety of drugs he takes- one or two is all it takes.
    Like I said, the stupid story has legs. Especially now that it has been revealed that the guy had a heart attack. And more and more cracks are appearing.
    As always- it aint the crime- it’s the cover-up.

  15. SAO – I agree completely with that (the criticism of the canned hunts). My sense is that thoe events are treated like social events – kind of like golf with guns. My resonse: shoot trap instead.

    Dusty – It happens often enough that pretty much everyone who hunts knows someone it has happened to – with differing levels of severity. This one seems to be about in the middle.

    Greg Lemond would be another example of it happening to somone well-known (he was on the receiving end).

    Max – If you make wild speculations, it helps to suggest “it could be true that”. It could be true that Al Gore will be nominated as the Democratic Presidential nominee…but I doubt it.


  16. Most failure chains involve more than one dumbass move, but like A.L. says: the finger on the trigger is the ultimate responsibility. Dumb.

    Anyone who doesn’t stick a 78 year old in the ICU for observation after any head wound is also dumb. Methinks Cheney can afford to pay his buddy’s bills.

    As for the MSM outrage – big deal. They are grousing that they aren’t being accorded special access privileges. Can’t imagine why. I’m sure it amused Cheney and Co to flip ‘em the bird by handing the story to a local.

    File under low humor that might have been tragedy.

  17. No minor “peppering” leaves you in the hospital ICU for two days and an extended stay for many days more.

    It does if you’re 78, quite possibly.

    As far as “canned hunts” go, last I looked wild doves weren’t exactly (you should pardon the phrase) sitting ducks. They take quick reflexes and a good eye to shoot. Max’s claim is pretty silly and not exactly informed by any real understanding of bird hunting. Fat pheasants on an open field, maybe. Dove in heavy brush, uh uh.

  18. Dusty (#7) Oh yeah, #3 was sarcasm. Unfortunately, it’s not entirely unrelated, in that Ann has apparently expressed a wish that one of the judges might, uh, “be removed from this earthly coil.”:

    The conservatives at CPAC weren’t impressed – but hey, I wrote the organizers last year telling them that inviting her to speak wasn’t a really smart idea. If they didn’t learn the lesson last year, they obviously fit the “do not trust to stay out of trouble while hunting with Dick” profile themselves.

  19. Dusty: It’s odd. I hear about accidents like this occurring, but I’ve never known anybody involved with one. I’ve seen lots of sloppy gunhandling, but relatively little on hunts. But me and mine grow up with guns early and safely. My best friend’s boys were safer with guns before they were ten than a lot of adults I’ve had pass their barrel over me. (In fact, I saw one dress a guy in his 50s down for bad gunhandling once. We all kept very serious faces the entire time, and then tried not to bust up laughing at the combination of his chirping voice, and that guy’s embarrassment.)

  20. How about Fuax News?
    In an exclusive interview with Fox News’ Brit Hume this afternoon, Vice President Dick Cheney took full responsibility for shooting his hunting companion, who has until now been pictured as the guilty party. The interview will not aired in full until 6 p.m. but according to Hume, in summarizing the contents, the vice president remained “totally unapologetic” about the long lag in reporting the shooting to the public– and also said that he had consumed one beer at lunch that day.

  21. In other words, in your opinion 1 beer consumed several hours before the incident got a full grown man drunk? Follow the first rule of hole digging.

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