Linda Chavez
Sometimes the White House press corps gets it right: Dick Cheney has some 'splaining to do. While the vice president's hunting accident may not have been the most important news story of the day Monday (the same day Iran began enriching uranium again), reporters were right to badger the White House press spokesman about the long delay in revealing what had happened and why the "official" announcement came from a private citizen rather than the White House. The public had the right to know immediately that the vice president of the United States had accidentally shot someone while hunting. For all those Republicans who are playing this as much ado about nothing, imagine their reaction if John Kerry or Al Gore or Bill Clinton had done the same thing.

The vice president is known for being a taciturn fellow, but his failure to admit what he had done immediately following the incident is puzzling nonetheless. Instead of releasing a statement Saturday evening, the vice president apparently chose to maintain public silence. It is not entirely clear who called White House Chief of Staff Andy Card to inform him a hunting accident had occurred in the vice president's party, but according to news reports, Card did not initially realize that Cheney was the shooter responsible. Upon learning of the accident, Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove called Katharine Armstrong, the owner of the ranch where the accident occurred, and discovered the vice president was involved. Rove called the president around 8 p.m., an hour and a half after the accident, telling him the details as he knew them. The first official word from the vice president's office came 20 hours after the shooting, when a Texas newspaper posted a story about the incident on its website, following a call from Ms. Armstrong informing them of the event.


Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .

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