When the White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, came to the press room just before 10 a.m. Tuesday and suggested he was wearing an orange tie to avoid a stray shot from Vice President Dick Cheney, it seemed to signal an effort to defuse the accidental-shooting story with a laugh.Sooner or later, something turns the rock over....
But by midday, it was clear that the staffs of the president and the vice president had failed to communicate. Just after arriving at work around 7:45 a.m., Mr. Cheney learned that the man he had shot, Harry M. Whittington, was about to undergo a medical procedure on his heart because his injuries were more serious than earlier believed, Mr. Cheney's spokeswoman said.
No one in Mr. Cheney's office passed the word to Mr. McClellan, senior officials at the White House said, adding that the press secretary would never have joked about the shooting accident if he had known about the turn of events involving Mr. Whittington.
Oh, and how bad is this? From Amy Goodman's opening remarks today reporting on the story:
Harry Whittington has suffered a heart attack. Doctors say it was likely related to the birdshot Whittington has lodged in his heart. Doctors expect Whittington to remain in the hospital for at least one more week. The incident has embarrassed the White House and made headlines around the world, among them: "We are all Harry Whittington."Robert Bryce, a Texas journalist, points out what I know is true here in Texas: you don't shoot a man and blame him for getting in front of your gun. But, as the NYT article points out, this is how a man who'll never run for office again, behaves.
Addendum: here is the article Bryce mentions, from the Austin American-Statesman. I can't imagine a hunter in Texas who would disagree with these sentiments:
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.