If an average person had accidentally shot his hunting partner, the person’s companions would scold him, he would pay his partner’s medical bill, and the issue would probably be over.
But if Vice President Cheney accidentally shoots his hunting partner, the accident somehow embodies the alleged faults of the Bush administration.
Reporters piled questions on White House spokesman Scott McClellan, from inquiries on the speed of information release to whether the vice president would resign. The reporters turned the accident into a political debate. They could not have been more insensitive.
Yes, the information did not reach the national media until a day after the accident. But is one day automatically too long? If the vice president received news of a possible terrorist attack, he would have to do everything he could to get the news to the president as quickly as possible. But the speed at which the vice president’s personal events are conveyed to the president and the media does not reflect the government’s response time to critical situations.
The public will desire to know what happened, because Cheney is the vice president. But whether the news comes in 12 hours or 24 is not that important: the vice president’s personal matters are not matters of national security.
President Franklin Roosevelt hid his polio from the country, and the media helped him hide it. No one I know of complained about that. The vice president could argue that he was not obligated to report his accident to the news; to report it would cause the commotion that is going on right now.
The vice president’s accident is not a second Watergate; he did not commit a crime, nor has he hidden any information from the media. What more can be asked from him? The vice president, who is not an evil robot, probably felt extremely guilty and upset over the accident. How would you feel if you accidentally shot your friend?
The vice president made a horrible mistake, but his mistake does not warrant a political commentary. The issue is not the government’s or Vice President Cheney’s communication skills, but the condition of the hunting partner, Mr. Whittington (and I’m glad he is all right).
We can laugh about whom the vice president will take hunting next, but the vice president could only have been hurt when the accident was blown out of proportion.
Jake Mokris is a homeschooled student and member of the Teen Takeover staff.