What's become almost bizarre is the way it has brought out a naked victim-blaming response from the White House, though of course, that's just par for the course from the Party of Personal Responsibility. Cheney must have a sign on his desk reading, "The Buckshot Stops There."
But I don't think they've done it so publicly before, particularly not in a way that a large part of their base knows is just wrong. Those of us who were raised around guns and hunting and took NRA gun-safety courses from the time we were kids are perfectly aware that you are responsible for where the gun is pointing when you pull the trigger. Skeet and bird shooters especially have this drilled into them.
So does Mike Leggett, a Texas outdoors writer:
- Be a man. You shot a guy.
That would be my unsolicited advice for Vice President Dick Cheney.
You shot a guy. At least stay in town until he's out of the hospital.
You shot a guy. Don't blame the sun or the wind or the rotation of the Earth. And for goodness' sake, don't blame Harry Whittington.
He's the guy you shot, and unless he pulled the trigger himself, it wasn't his fault. Unless he was invisible, it wasn't his fault. And it wasn't his fault that he didn't "announce his presence," either. He was supposedly 30 yards behind you. His only fault was being a human being standing on two legs.
He's in the hospital. You're in Washington. And others are making excuses for you.
You shot the guy.
I've been hit with pellets, and it felt like a swarm of bees coming upside my head. I didn't spend several days in the hospital. I've picked shot out of other people sitting on the tailgate of a pickup, and they didn't even have to go to the doctor. They went back out hunting.
They got peppered. Whittington got shot. By you.
As Leggett points out, no one who's gone hunting will blame Cheney particularly for the accident, because they happen. We all know it.
But what's unforgiveable is Cheney's attempt to dodge responsibility and blame Whittington for the accident. Especially since he is a highly visible role model:
- All is not lost here, though. Cheney can use the opportunity to make a strong statement for hunting safety, for wearing hunter orange behind bird dogs, for honesty. It would mean a lot to youngsters, and to everyday guys who make the same mistake, that the vice president didn't try to shuffle the blame onto someone else.
I won't be holding my breath. It's not in his track record or his nature.
After all, being Republican means never having to say you're sorry.
UPDATE: Well, whaddya know: Hell froze over. Which no doubt means we'll be regaled with right-wing bloviations about what a Heckuva Guy that Cheney is, having stepped up and taken responsibility for it like a man.
Yeah, after four days of letting his staff blame Whittington.