WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2006
Almost all pundits have worked extra-hard to avoid the elephant in the room. But uh-oh! On Countdown, Keith Olbermann actually mentioned it. How do we know Dick Cheney wasn’t all likkered up? Omigod! He came out and asked:
OLBERMANN (2/14/06): The sheriff`s office,
though, issued a statement last night, in the conclusion that there, this was an accident, also said no alcohol had been involved in it. But how would they know that? The sheriff`s office did not interview the vice president for 14 hours after all this happened.
And the lower-ranking sheriff`s officers who did not know about the scheduling of that interview for Sunday morning had been turned away when they tried to talk to Mr. Cheney on Saturday night.
Duh! This question was obvious. Elsewhere, though, cable pundits broke their backs to avoid asking about the delay in Cheney’s interview. Cheney wouldn’t meet with the sheriff till Sunday—which may, of course, have been perfectly innocent. On the other hand, The Veep may have been likkered up. It’s the possibility which can’t say its own name—as we see in this morning’s Post, courtesy of Jim VandeHei:
VANDEHEI (2/15/06): Vice President Cheney's slow and unapologetic public response to the accidental shooting of a 78-year-old Texas lawyer is turning the quail-hunting mishap into a political liability for the Bush administration and is prompting senior White House officials to press Cheney to publicly address the issue as early as today, several prominent Republicans said yesterday.
The Republicans said Cheney should have immediately disclosed the shooting Saturday night to avoid even the suggestion of a coverup
and should have offered a public apology for his role in accidentally shooting Harry Whittington, a GOP lawyer from Austin.
“To avoid even the suggestion of a coverup?” A coverup of what?
VandeHei (or his editors) knew he mustn’t say. The pregnant comment lay unexplained, right there at the start of his article.
Meanwhile, on cable, everyone worked to avoid the obvious question. Poor Dan Abrams, on The Abrams Report! He had almost finished a ten-minute segment. And then one guest (Texas attorney Brian Wice) had to haul off and say it:
WICE (2/14/06): What`s interesting, one quick point, everybody seemed to go out of their way to say there was no horseplay or drinking on this trip. In Texas, if there`s no horseplay or drinking,
Dan, it`s not hunting.
Dammit! Abrams had almost escaped! The host chuckled weakly, then signed off. Before that, we had heard absurd “analyses” like this, from another guest:
ABRAMS: Chris Downey, former Texas prosecutor, it does not seem like a big deal to me that [the sheriff] waited overnight in what was perceived as a hunting accident to question the vice president.
DOWNEY: No, I`m not troubled by the wait. That doesn’t concern me at all. As a matter of fact, the fact that they did report it and stuck around to be interviewed is certainly an act of good faith on their part, went above and beyond what it is they had to do.
Cheney gets bonus points for being interviewed at all! In the face of such complete, utter nonsense, Abrams knew that he had to stay silent.
On Hardball, meanwhile, Chris Matthews spent 45 minutes battering Cheney for dissing the press, but he knew to avoid that big, hulking elephant. Forget about ignoring the press—why had Cheney avoided the sheriff? Except for Olbermann, everyone knew they had to avoid this bad question.
Final point: Yesterday, the Post editorial board cherry-picked a false report from the Times to say that Cheney did meet with the sheriff (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/14/06). Today, their bizarre error goes uncorrected. It’s all about that elephant in the room. Let’s state the obvious—Insider Washington has agreed that it must be ignored.