The Lighter Side
Left all atwitter over Cheney's itchy trigger finger
By Daniel Patrick Welch
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Feb 13, 2006, 22:05

Of course, most of you already know I�ve never been the vice president�s biggest fan. I�ve often confused him with Lon Chaney, and yes, I�ve had him in my sights before . . . er, so to speak. But I find it unconscionable that the left wing punditocracy is having such unearned fun over Cheney�s unfortunate hunting accident. I mean who is the victim here? The vice president, who was deprived of the chance to become a marksman through proper training in Vietnam just because he had other priorities or some wealthy Texan (a conservative and a lawyer -- hello!) who had the bad sense to go on a hunting trip with ol� Duck! Cheney?

Fun�s fun, but really, come on. We can�t just keep taking potshots at some poor civil servant who gave up a lucrative position at Halliburton just so he could serve his country by greasing the wheels for no-bid contracts for the same company. Here he is, working so hard on behalf of the people that he had to spend valuable workdays shopping for a mansion in Maryland while Katrina churned into the Gulf Coast -- and people are making jokes at his expense. It just goes to show you that, even if you spend your whole life building up a reputation, it only takes one little slip-up for the whole thing to blow up in your face.

Well, actually, it blew up in Whittington�s face, I guess. But has anyone ever stopped to ask the tough questions? What was he doing there, dressed like that, at that time of whatever day it turns out to have been, with a vice president like that? Am I the only one to think he might have wanted it? I mean, I�m not exactly saying he was asking for it; but who goes on a hunting trip with Duck! Cheney? Duh! Everybody knows why Tony Soprano never got into that golf club, if you know what I mean. People who value their own health just aren�t comfortable around violent criminals. Fore!! Where is the so-called press on this?

On the other hand, I guess it�s only thanks to hindsight that we know Cheney�s secure, undisclosed location is pretty much secure only for the vice president himself. I mean, it was pretty safe for Nino Scalia. He didn�t even have to recuse himself, let alone get shot in the face. And everybody knows the old adage: keep your enemies close, and shoot your friends in the face. Or something like that. And I know everyone says Cheney is an avid hunter. But I can�t seem to picture him traipsing through the brush in his $900 Guccis. I keep thinking of that Monty Python bit, where the king has a sort of skeet shooting contraption that launches peasants in the air every time he yells, �Pull!�

I just wish the self-appointed left critics wouldn�t always take a scattershot approach to Cheney�s wrongdoing. It could be that it was a simple accident: after all, as Tom Lehrer famously pointed out decades ago, tons of people shoot their friends hunting, easily mistaking them for . . ."a deer in a bright red hat?� And the self-righteous left goes on and on as if they never shot a friend in the face. We�ve already heard from one right-wing gasbag after another: apparently it happens all the time. We just don�t know because we hate freedom so much; hell, my wife and I don�t even own a gun! And according to Katharine Armstrong, on whose honest Republican cloth ranch the incident was belatedly revealed to have taken place, it wasn�t even that big a deal. �He got pretty well peppered,� was all she said of the impudent attorney in Cheney�s line of fire. But I don�t know about that one. I mean, I ate a bowl of ramen last night that was �pretty well peppered,� but neither I nor my soup wound up being flown out for treatment.

And so what if it was or wasn�t an accident? Did anyone ever stop to remember that the Bush cartel hates lawyers that aren�t currently working on a bribery, election theft or war crimes case for them? Whatever happened to the other old adage -- you know, �a lawyer in the face is worth two birds in the Bush (family something-or-other).� I never can keep those old adages straight. But maybe it was just that: a sort of warning shot across the brow, if you will, for the legal community. I mean, it is 2006 after all, the Bush menagerie is going to have to keep a lot of lawyers in line if they want to stay out of jail. Cheney was probably just doing his hatchet -- or, rather, birdshot -- job like all dutiful vice presidents; no need to get all happy over it. Maybe he mistook Whittington for Pat Fitzgerald -- I�m sure the vice president knows whose name was on that sealed indictment.

But all these speculative reasons are kind of beating around the Bush, as it were, without taking real aim at the real issues. It may not be about Cheney or Bush themselves, but on behalf of a greater good. Cheney, like most thinking people (and most agree that he, unlike his �boss,� may indeed be a thinking person, even if the thoughts he thinks are always evil ones), must have winced when Bush told an audience of combat troops that �I have an injury too.� Even the Darth Vader of the administration can�t think it�s in good taste to compare a scratch from clearing brush to poor kids being sent to fight his war getting their limbs blown off in Iraq.

Maybe, just maybe -- but you�d never hear the liberal press say it! -- maybe ol� Duck! was just trying to lend a little more seriousness to the injuries of an elite who is as quick to send others� kids to die as they are to eschew military service themselves. You want risk? You want danger? You want authentic? How about getting shot in the face! Take that, Fiddy Cent! Of course, it might ring truer if Cheney had shot himself in the face . . . now that�s legit! And no body armor! Take that, Tom Tolles!

And of course, there is the nonsense about how it took so long for the incident to be reported. Typical left wing �cover-up� whining. I�m sure they told everyone who had a need or a right to know. Let�s see, there was Whittington himself, of course, as well as Cheney�s medical team. And let�s not forget Strongarm herself. And people are trying to puff it up into some sort of 18-hour gap. I�m sure a loyal secretary will appear to explain how she managed to erase that bit of time.

Some criticism does seem on target. I got one email with the following complaint: �I have no health care, and this bastard has an ambulance on call?? We are sooo fucked!� Others were unfazed, echoing the Soprano logic I outlined above: �Hey, if you hang out with gangsters, you�re bound to get shot sooner or later.� It does seem to lack compassion for poor Attorney Whittington, though, and that could be a problem for the Bush House of Cards. If they keep blaming him for his own shooting, he just might pull an Abramoff or a Brownie. Loyalty only goes so far.

Another lesson I think should be drawn here is that, while the whole world may look like it is beginning to crumble around La Cosa Bushstra, fighting truth and justice on so many fronts, it is only fitting that Cheney should prove that the gang can still hit a moving target or two, even if the target is a near-octogenarian. And they have simultaneously proven the old saw of Gary Trudeau's Duke when he pulled a gun on the NRA president in a bar.

"You shouldn't sneak up on me like that!" Duke warns. "I could have blown you away!" "I�m sorry," retorts the NRA leader, "that would have been your right." And Duke agrees, of course: "I know, but I don't want to get thrown out of here!"

There are opportunities here that offer a chance for the right wing to unify its agenda, instead of a shotgun approach to domestic policy, by gay-bashing, tax cuts, and sowing fear. Imagine the power of merging the right's longstanding protection of gun rights (except when the guns in question are held by brown people) with the long-sought goal of Social Security privatization. Who needs the trust fund: send everyone over 65 on a hunting trip with Dick Cheney! Problem solved. Because at heart, it's best to return to the simple truths: guns don't shoot people, vice presidents do. Pull!!

� 2006 Daniel Patrick Welch

Writer, singer, linguist and activist Daniel Patrick Welch lives and writes in Salem, Massachusetts, with his wife, Julia Nambalirwa-Lugudde. Together they run The Greenhouse School.

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