Friday, February 17, 2006

Cheney, Whittington, and the triumph of truthiness

Alright, so the victim of Cheney's recklessness, Harry Whittington, has spoken out -- and he feels sorry for causing Cheney so much trouble: "This past weekend encompassed all of us in a cloud of misfortune and sadness that is not easy to explain, especially to those who are not familiar with the great sport of quail hunting". And more: "We all assume certain risks in whatever we do, whatever activities we pursue. And regardless of how experienced, careful and dedicated we are, accidents do and will happen. And that's what happened."

First, the great sport of quail hunting? How exactly is it great? How exactly it is a sport? Shooting small farm-raised birds in what's known as a canned hunt? Honestly, I wish the quail could fire back.

Second, no one has seriously suggested that the shooting wasn't an accident. Sure, it was an accident. A serious enough one to send the victim to hospital and for said victim to suffer a heart attack as a result of the shooting. But is that part of the risk of the canned hunt? That your fellow hunter will turn and fire recklessly in your direction? Does the shooter bear no responsibility whatsoever for what happened? I mean, if you get in your car, pull out of your driveway without looking, and hit a biker, is that not your responsibility? It may be an accident, but do you deserve no blame whatsoever? Lack of intent does not excuse reckless behaviour.

And how has the whole incident become "a cloud of misfortune and sadness"? The Vice President of the United States shot someone. That someone may be a loyal Republican, a friend of the shooter, and he may want to deflect blame away from the shooter, but is that enough? Is that it?

Look, there doesn't seems to be anything criminal here. And, yes, the story will likely go away soon -- it's already almost dead. But let's not go the other way, buying into the latest spin from Cheney and his apologists, and pretend that nothing significant happened.

Here's how Michelle Cottle puts it in an excellent piece at The New Republic: "None of which is to say that Cheney, Bush, or anyone else involved in this little debacle necessarily will suffer lasting damage. (Except poor Harry Whittington, of course.) But just because a scandal doesn't bring down an administration doesn't mean it isn't instructive or illuminating--not to mention absolutely worthy of media overkill. Some times a hunting accident is just a hunting accident. Other times, it is the perfect metaphor for why the nation's leadership is such a disaster."

Exactly. This little episode, this accident, this "cloud of misfortune and sadness" has been nothing if not instructive. It may very well be that the media (including the blogosphere) are turning away from the story, but, as Steve Benen puts it at The Carpetbagger Report, "some of the lingering questions still deserve answers".

We likely won't get them, but we should at least continue to ask them. Otherwise, we'll be left with nothing but the usual Republican spin and the growing disinterest of the worn-out mainstream media.

And that's truthiness, not truth.

Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

<< Home