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  1. #1
    Senior Member Brian503a's Avatar
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    May 2005
    California or ground zero of the invasion

    Cheney: 'I'm the guy who pulled the trigger' ... y-tv_x.htm

    Cheney: 'I'm the guy who pulled the trigger'
    By David Jackson, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON — A somber Dick Cheney took full responsibility Wednesday for shooting a fellow hunter in a weekend hunting accident, saying "the image of him falling is something I'll never be able to get out of my mind."

    In his first public comments since the incident, the vice president told Fox News Channel: "You can't blame anybody else — I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend." He called it "one of the worst days of my life."

    On Thursday, the Associated Press reported that President Bush was satisfied Cheney's account of his Texas hunting accident, but Bush's spokesman declined to say whether the president felt it should have been revealed earlier.

    "I think that the vice president clearly explained the rationale behind that," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said, avoiding a direct response to questions about whether Bush felt the shooting accident was publicly disclosed in a timely manner.

    "The president's satisfied with what the vice president said yesterday," McClellan said Thursday.

    Cheney defended the delayed disclosure of the shooting, which didn't hit national newswires until almost a day after it occurred at 5:50 p.m. CT Saturday. He said his first concern was the health of Texas lawyer Harry Whittington, whom he hit with blast of birdshot during a quail hunt.

    Periodically taking deep breaths during the interview, Cheney said, "it's a difficult subject to talk about, frankly."

    Cheney said Whittington was about 30 yards away. "If he'd been closer, obviously, the damage from the shot would have been greater," Cheney said.

    Whittington was dressed in orange hunter's gear to make him easier to spot. But, Cheney said, "there was a little bit of a gully there ... although I could see the upper part of his body ... I didn't see it at the time I shot, until after I'd fired. And the sun was directly behind him — that affected the vision, too, I'm sure."

    Cheney, 65, described watching Whittington fall after being hit. The vice president ran toward the bleeding, but still-conscious man.

    "I said, 'Harry, I had no idea you were there,' " Cheney recounted. "He didn't respond."

    Whittington, 78, remained in stable condition after a minor heart attack Tuesday that occurred when a shotgun pellet traveled to his heart and triggered an irregular heart rhythm, said officials at Christus Spohn Memorial Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas.

    Hospital administrator Peter Banko said Wednesday that Whittington was eating regular food and felt well enough to do legal work. Banko said the Austin lawyer considers the fuss "kind of much ado about nothing."

    The local sheriff's office issued a statement Monday concluding alcohol was not involved in the shooting. Cheney told Fox News that he had one beer at lunch and "nobody was under the influence."

    Cheney spoke as public pressure mounted on him from a number of different quarters, including Republicans such as former White House press secretary Marlin Fitzwater, to give his version of the incident.

    The vice president stood behind his decision to have ranch owner Katharine Armstrong release the story, instead of a White House official. Cheney said he did not have staff with him. He noted that Armstrong witnessed the event and is an experienced hunter who could provide an accurate account.

    Armstrong released the news by contacting her local newspaper, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

    Cheney said his first reaction "was not to think I need to call the press," but concern for Whittington. It wasn't until Sunday morning "that we could be confident that everything was probably going to be OK" with Whittington's condition, he said.

    "There wasn't any way this was going to be minimized, but it was important to be accurate," he said.

    "I've been in the business for a long time, and never seen a situation quite like this. We've ... never had a situation where the vice president shot somebody."

    Separately, Cheney declined to comment on another widely reported controversy related to the investigation of the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's name. (Related story: Cheney still mum on CIA leak)

    A court document says former Cheney chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby told grand jurors that "superiors" authorized him to disclose classified information about Iraq's weapons program to the media. The grand jury indicted Libby on perjury charges.

    Cheney said during the interview that an executive order gives the vice president the authority to declassify information. He said he has participated in such decisions, but he did not supply any details.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Brian503a's Avatar
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    May 2005
    California or ground zero of the invasion
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    Hit Refresh?
    Why Bush may be thinking about replacing Cheney.

    Thursday, February 16, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

    The Dick Cheney shooting incident will, in a way, go away. And, in a way, not--ever. Some things stick. Gerry Ford had physically stumbled only once or twice in public when he became, officially, The Stumbler. Mr. Ford's stumbles seemed to underscore a certain lack of sure-footedness in his early policies and other decisions. The same with Jimmy Carter and the Killer Rabbit. At the time Mr. Carter told the story of a wild rabbit attacking his boat he had already come to be seen by half the country as weak and unlucky. Even bunnies took him on.

    Same with Dick Cheney. He's been painted as the dark force of the administration, and now there's a mental picture to go with the reputation. Pull! Sorry, Harry! Pull!

    Can media bias be detected in the endless coverage? Sure, always. But it's also a great story. A vice president of the United States shot a guy in a hunting accident, and no one on his staff told the press. That's a story.

    But as a scandal I'm not sure it has a big future. The vice president yesterday offered the facts as he observed and experienced them. "I'm the guy who pulled the trigger that fired the round that hit Harry" is a pretty direct statement. His recounting of the decision on how to handle it in the press seemed to reflect only incompetence, not malevolence.

    Right now in the White House they're discussing how to help the vice president get through his problem. They've already tried the wearing of orange ties, an attempt to take the sting out of the incident by showing they don't feel the sting. Duck! Ha ha!

    But what are they thinking that they're not saying? Here's a hunch, based not on any inside knowledge but only on what I know of people who practice politics, and those who practice it within the Bush White House.
    I suspect what they're thinking and not saying is, If Dick Cheney weren't vice president, who'd be a good vice president? They're thinking, At some time down the road we may wind up thinking about a new plan. And one night over drinks at a barbecue in McLean one top guy will turn to another top guy and say, "Under the never permeable and never porous Dome of Silence, tell me . . . wouldn't you like to replace Cheney?"

    Why would they be thinking about this? It's not the shooting incident itself, it's that Dick Cheney has been the administration's hate magnet for five years now. Halliburton, energy meetings, Libby, Plamegate. This was not all bad for the White House: Mr. Cheney took the heat that would otherwise have been turned solely on George Bush. So he had utility, and he's experienced and talented and organized, and Mr. Bush admires and respects him. But, at a certain point a hate magnet can draw so much hate you don't want to hold it in your hand anymore, you want to drop it, and pick up something else. Is this fair? Nah. But fair has nothing to do with it.

    This is a White House that likes to hit refresh when the screen freezes. Right now the screen is stuck, with poll numbers in the low 40s, or high 30s.

    The key thing is Iraq. George Bush cares deeply about Iraq and knows his legacy will be decided there. It has surely dawned on the White House that "Iraq" will not be "over" in the next two years. Iraq is a long story. What Dick Armitage or Colin Powell said about the Pottery Barn rule was true: If you break it, you own it, at the very least for the next few years.

    George Bush, and so the men and women around him, will want the next Republican presidential nominee to continue the U.S. effort in, and commitment to, Iraq. To be a candidate who will continue his policy, and not pull the plug, and burrow through.

    This person will not be Dick Cheney, who has already said he doesn't plan to run. So Mr. Bush may feel in time that he has reason to want to put in a new vice president in order to pick a successor who'll presumably have an edge in the primaries--he's the sitting vice president, and Republicans still respect primogeniture. They will tend to make the common-sense assumption that a guy who's been vice president for, say, a year and a half, is a guy who already knows the top job. Anyway, the new guy will get a honeymoon, which means he won't be fully hated by the time the 2008 primaries begin.

    This new vice president would, however, have to be very popular in the party, or the party wouldn't buy it. Replacing Mr. Cheney would be chancy. The new veep would have to get through the Senate, which has at this point at least three likely contenders for the nomination, at least two of whom who would not, presumably, be amused.

    Plus there's more quiet anti-administration feeling in the party than is generally acknowledged, and the president's men know it. A lot of people would find such a move too cute by half. The contenders already in line--and their supporters, donors, fans, staff and friends in the press--would resent it. Big time.

    People wouldn't like it . . . unless they liked it. How could they be persuaded to like it?

    It would have to be a man wildly popular in the party and the press. And it would have to be a decision made by Dick Cheney. If he didn't want to do it he wouldn't have to. If he were pressed--Dick, we gotta put the next guy in here or we're going to lose in '08 and see all our efforts undone--he might make the decision himself. He'd have to step down on his own. He's just been through a trauma, and he can't be liking his job as much now as he did three years ago. No one on the downside of a second term does, hate magnet or not.

    Of course, all this is exactly like the sort of thing people blue-skied about in 1992, when George H.W. Bush was in trouble and a lot of people urged him to hit refresh by dumping Dan Quayle. He didn't. George W. Bush loves to do what his father didn't.
    Who would it be? Someone who's a strong supporter of Iraq, and, presumably, the Bush doctrine.

    Who would that be? That's what I suspect the president's men are asking themselves. But silently.

    Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of "John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father," (Penguin, 2005), which you can order from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Thursdays.
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