Dick Cheney's political life is in dire straits!

 A.H. Jaffor Ullah

Published on April 02, 2006


The U.S. Vice President, who has a flare for secrecy, is in deep trouble in the aftermath of February 11 quail hunting trip to South Texas where he accidentally shot Harry Whittington, a prominent Texas lawyer. It is a open season on Cheney for he failed to inform the police or his boss, President Bush about the tragic incident that took place in the ranch owned by Katharine Armstrong. News reporters are asking the White House spokesperson, Scott McClellan, to explain the 22-hour delay in reporting the incident to outside world. The constant badgering by the newspaper reporters covering the White House had irritated Mr. McClellan so much that he advised the newspaper reporters to ask Vice President's office for an explanation. It seems as if President Bush wanted to distance himself from the beleaguered veep. Is Dick Cheney already becoming a liability to the president? We shall have to wait and see how this bizarre story develops right before our eyes.

The shooting incidence took place at about 5:30 pm after which the injured hunter, Mr. Whittington, 78, was given the first aid by the veep's medical team. Later, he was transferred by helicopter to a nearby hospital at Corpus Christie, Texas. Today (February 14), I read that a sheriff deputy showed up at the ranch. Who did call the local law enforcement agent is not known. However, this much is known that vice president�s people at the ranch turned the law enforcement officer away. For whatever reason Mr. Cheney did not want to report the tragic incident to police, news reporters or even to his boss, President Bush. About 22 hours later Mr. Cheney broke his silence and let his boss know of the accidental shooting at the ranch. This gap of 22-hours has become the issue at this time.

Many analyst and political pundit think that Dick Cheney has the flare for secrecy and he in appropriately thinks he is above the law. Now that a prominent person is in the hospital who the doctor said had a mild heart attack and pellets lodged in his heart and skin, the press wanted to know all the gory details about the shooting incident.

Dick Cheney is now ducking the reporters and keeping a low profile for the third straight day after shooting his hunting partner; his office said that the veep telephoned the victim after the man suffered a heart attack. Mr. Cheney is yet to express regret publicly for wounding prominent Texas lawyer Harry Whittington in the neck, chest, and face. In fact, his spokesperson tried to lay blame on aged lawyer for not letting the veep know that he was there near a bush to collect the bird he shot. Later, some hunting experts said that the shooter (the veep in this case) should know his surroundings before discharging the firearm. They squarely blamed Mr. Cheney for the tragic incident.

Physicians attending the millionaire lawyer blamed birdshot that shifted to Whittington's heart for the episode of a mild heart attack. They think that the victim's life was in no immediate danger and no surgery was planned to remove the metal bits that was discharged from Mr. Cheney's gun; nonetheless, the victim would have to stay in hospital another week.

Lucky for Mr. Cheney that he had no public events on his schedule but he managed to duck a contingent of reporters staking out a meeting he had with lawmakers. We learned from the White House aides that Mr. Cheney had no plans to come forward with his account of the incident. This is somewhat characteristics of the veep. However, in my humble opinion Mr. Cheney will have to pay a heavy price for his stubborn behavior. After all, he is holding a high public office a heartbeat away from becoming the president of this great republic, which is the leading nation of the free world.

There is a humorous side of the tragic incident. The comedians of the late night TV show are having a field day with Dick Cheney. In today's newspaper, a whole slews of humorous articles were printed. I get to read some of them in the Internet. Here are some samplings. But first fasten your seatbelt, lest you fall from the chair. Some of these jokes were outright hilarious.

Eugene Robinson, a syndicated columnist, wrote, �Duck when Cheney's around." He further wrote, "I told you people Dick Cheney was dangerous. The man is out of control." (From: The Seattle Times, February 14, 2006).

A blogger in Huffington Post wrote, "How embarrassing it is for those of us from Wyoming to have the most famous person from this state do such a bone headed thing as to shoot his hunting companion. It's probably a good thing he never put on a military uniform. He would put a whole new twist on the term 'friendly fire.� " Another blogger in the same web site wrote, "All Americans Are Created Equal, But Dick Cheney Is More Equal Than Others."

David Letterman, in CBS's Late Show on Feb. 13, 2006, said, "Good news, ladies and gentlemen, we have finally located weapons of mass destruction. ... It's Dick Cheney. ... We can't get bin Laden, but we nailed a 78-year-old attorney."

In "Wonkette.Com" on Feb. 13, 2006, someone wrote, "Dick Cheney Finally Takes a Stand Against Trial Lawyers." Republican candidates in 2004 election showed their dislike for trial lawyers because John Kerry's running mate, Senator Edwards, was a very successful trial lawyer.

Mark Leibovich, Washington Post Staff Writer, wrote a hilarious piece on February 14 issue entitled, "After Cheney's shooting incident, time to unload episode triggers a fusillade of wisecracks, and a withering blast from White House press."

In summary, it seems as if Dick Cheney is in hot political waters after the terrible incident that happened on February 11, 2006, in a South Texas ranch. The victim is now in a hospital who suffered a mild heart attack. Mr. Bush's press secretary is trying distance the veep from the president. In the meantime, White House press is badgering Mr. McClellan with a barrage of questions. Many analysts think that Mr. Cheney thought he was above the law. He has to pay for his insolence. If his popularity plunges, the ultra-conservative Republicans who support him will dump him in a hurry. This episode is going to run its course; therefore stay tuned for more information. The Cheney episode has only entered the second chapter and more is yet to come.

Dr. A.H. Jaffor Ullah, a researcher and columnist, writes from Ithaca, New York.