The vice president was tanked when he confused his hunting companion, Texas Republican stalwart Harry Whittington, for a quail, according to Capital Hill Blue reporter and editor Doug Thompson.
In an article in Capital Hill Blue, Thompson, who worked for several key Republican members of Congress before going back into journalism and who appears to have excellent contacts on the Hill and in the White House, says the Secret Service agents who travel with and guard Cheney filed a written report saying the vice president was "clearly inebriated" at the time of the shooting.
The Secret Service report, according to Thompson, who says he spoke with people who’ve seen it, states that Cheney showed "visible signs" of impairment, such as slurred speech and erratic behavior.
This would put Cheney’s inexcusable delay of a day in making the shooting public and also the even more inexcusable effort made by the owners of the ranch and the Cheney entourage to bar local sheriff’s deputies from interviewing anyone, including the shooter himself, until the following day, in a different light.
All the nonsense about "needing to know what Whittington’s condition was" before going public, or "wanting the ranch owners to be the ones" to tell the story, or about Cheney being too upset to talk about it are just so much bull. This was a case of ducking the law.
Hunting while drunk and shooting someone is a felony in Texas, and the vice president is escaping prosecution because he has the power to hide his crime and his reckless poor judgement.
It had always struck me as peculiar that Cheney, after shooting someone he describes as a friend, would not have gone to the hospital with him, and hung around there at least until learning that he was okay. But what did Cheney do? He went back to the Armstrong house after shipping Whittington off to the hospital in the ambulance that follows him everywhere, and had a drink (!) and a nice dinner.
I know Cheney has the public persona of being a cold bastard, but even heartless SOBs at least want to look like they care about their friends, so why would the vice president have not at least made a show of going to the hospital–unless he was unable to walk straight, and was afraid a local sheriff might get past his Secret Service guards with a breathalizer.
Cheney, it should be noted, has a reputation as a hard drinker (he has two DUI convictions on his record–one more than the president), and the belated admission that he’d had "one beer" before heading out on the hunt never seemed very credible.
Unfortunately, we’re unlikely to see this story go very far, since the White House is unlikely to let the Secret Service report see the light of day. Still, if that report is out there, it’s also unlikely that it will simply vanish. Sooner or later the story will come out.
Thompson also reports that the Secret Service confiscated all Whittington’s blood tests from the hospital, making it impossible to know whether he also was drunk–a finding which would have cast further doubt on the vice president’s sobriety at the time of the shooting.
The best that can be said of this whole sorry incident is that at least we’re unlikely to have to hear any more moralizing from this sorry vice president.
By the way, compare our brave and noble VP’s response to his own shooting of a friend to the way Franklin Roosevelt responded to someone being shot and injured during an attempt on his own life. This from Richey Hope of Hinsdale, IL, whose own grandfather was the shooting victim:
When Giuseppe Zangara, an anarchist and immigrant, emptied his revolver at President-elect FDR (during a motorcade in 1933), he wounded five people, including my great-grandfather, Mayor Anton J. Cermak of Chicago. Roosevelt had been speaking via microphone from the back of his open limousine to a crowd of about 15,000 at a park. Cermak had been speaking to FDR while standing on the running board, and fell wounded to the ground. The Secret Service, not even knowing the number of shooters, immediately started to drive off. Roosevelt looked back, saw Cermak on the ground, and courageously ordered the Secret Service to back up the car. FDR then had the Mayor, his one-time political enemy, placed in the back with him, and held him all the way to the hospital. What FDR did was especially brave when one considers that because of his lower paralysis he was, in effect, trapped in that open car.
Roosevelt went to the hospital with Cermak. Cheney just shipped his victim off to the hospital and hung back at the ranch and had another drink and dinner by the fire.
Deadeye Dick had "other priorities" I guess, just like he did back during the Vietnam War, when others of his political convictions were signing up for duty.
DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can’t be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.
He can be reached at: email@example.com