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Real Men Don't Hide Behind Scott McClellan | The Nation

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Capital Games

 Washington: a city of denials, spin, and political calculations. The Nation's former DC editor David Corn spent 2002-2007 blogging on the policies, personalities and lies that spew out of the nation's capital. The complete archive appears below. Corn is now the DC editor at Mother Jones.

Real Men Don't Hide Behind Scott McClellan

THIS JUST IN: Harry Whittington suffered a minor heart attack on Tuesday morning due to bird shot from Cheney's gun that migrated into his heart. Click here.

I posted this first at www.davidcorn.com....

Kudos to my friend Ken Bazinet, a White House correspondent for the New York Daily News. Yesterday, I was wondering whether Cheney had obtained the proper hunting license before going off to hunt quail and shoot a buddy. It turns out he had not. And Bazinet seems to have confirmed this first. At least, he's the first reporter I've seen who has the story. Read about it here. He wrote:

Vice President Cheney had no license to kill--quail, that is.

After the White House reluctantly conceded yesterday that it sat on the blockbuster news that Cheney shot a hunting buddy Saturday, the veep's office revealed he didn't even have the proper $7 stamp on his hunting license to shoot quail in Texas.

"The staff asked for all permits needed, but was not informed of the $7 upland game-bird stamp requirement," Cheney's office said in a statement last night.

Although he was hunting illegally when he blasted Austin millionaire Harry Whittington, Cheney will get off with a warning from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, his office said.

Cheney and Bush sure know how to succeed despite breaking or bending the rules. Bush had one DWI; Cheney had two. Bush went MIA in the National Guard; Cheney took five military deferments. This is a rules-don't-matter duo, a shoot-and-don't-tell couple. Kids, pay attention, you can mess up and still become millionaire-leaders of the free world.

These past two days it sure has seemed that Scott McClellan has not enjoyed working for Bush and Cheney. He faced a fusillade of questions yesterday and refused to give a straightforward accounting of why it took so long to disclose the hunting accident. It didn't take much imagination to suspect that Cheney and/or the White House initially considered hiding the event from the press and the public. Today, McClellan relied on one of his favorite evasive maneuvers. When reporters asked him to address remaining questions, he said (repeatedly), "we went through that yesterday." Actually, he had not. That's why these queries were being hurled at him today. But he often resorts to this dodge. I'm guessing he thinks it might cause some of the viewing public to think that the reporters are piling on. ("Oh, that poor Scotty McClellan. Look at that; those nasty reporters are asking him question he's already answered.")

Before the reporters today could finish hurling questions that would not be answered by McClellan, he called a halt to the press briefing, noting, "it's time to focus on the priorities of the American people." Perhaps he had in mind the war that most Americans no longer believe was worth it.

McClellan is a puppet, a beard. He's fronting for others. Still, he keeps generating his own credibility problem. (Remember when he said that neither Karl Rove nor Scooter Libby were involved in the CIA leak?) It may seem that White House reporters give him a tough time on occasions such as these. But it's not nearly as tough as he deserves. The journos at 1600 Pennsylvania ought to consider guerilla action of some sort. For instance, if McClellan won't answer a question, then every reporter in the room ought to ask it--one after another. Politely. It would be an I-am-Spartacus moment. But given the needs and personalities of White House reporters, orchestrating something like that would be akin to getting a covey of quail to sit still for a vice president.

Meanwhile, why won't Cheney be a man and stop hiding behind McClellan? He should hold a press conference and announce he will answer every question about the hunting accident. Let's see if he has the chutzpah to blame Harry Whittington for having gotten in the way of his shot, as some Cheney comrades have already done. As the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department points out on its website, "The primary reason for Texas hunting accidents remains swinging on game outside a safe zone of fire. This happens when a person points a firearm at another hunter while following a moving target, such as a flying game bird." That sure seems a reasonable explanation for why Whittington ended up with a face full of pellets. Texas PWD spokesman Tom Harvey tells me that there is no state law that compels the investigation of hunting accidents that don't produce a dead body. Most accidents are reported voluntarily, says Harvey, who as of Tuesday had received about 200 calls from various media outfits. And there is no punitive action for accidents that involve no criminal wrongdoing. The errant hunter can get a license next time. (Quails of Texas, watch out for the return of Cheney.) But there is a health and safety law that requires doctors to report gunshot wounds.

So with no official investigation under way, there's no reason why Cheney cannot come before the press, sit in front of a blackboard, and explain all. I'm not sure if real men hunt. But real men do take responsibility for their actions.

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