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The International Writers Magazine
: Reality Check

DICK CHENEY - KING OF ALL MEDIA
James Campion

How The Powerful Can Easily Manipulate Information

O
kay, so the first shooting by a sitting vice president in over 200 years isn't quite as exciting as Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton settling old scores with a pistol duel on the cliffs of Weehawken, New Jersey.

We have a fat old bastard, probably drunk, definitely a shitty shot (now we know why all those military deferments during Viet Nam) peppering another possibly soused old fart while quail hunting. Rich dipshits hopping around with their cute little bird-shot guns blasting away at penned foul doesn't have the same dramatic feel as two rankled patriots, in the prime of their forefather powers, pitched on the banks of the Hudson River, aiming cocked weapons at dawn over a blood feud of national politics and personal angst.

Hamilton didn't make it. Dick Cheney's victim, 78-year-old, Texas lawyer, and generous contributor to Republican coffers, Harry Whittington, most likely will. So it doesn't even have the searing tragedy of a Massachusetts senator leaving a crocked date-rape candidate to drown in a lake.

It's really not much of a story, even for a vice president: Big mistake by an idiot hunter. Happens all the time, but not enough.
Besides, people get shot every few minutes in Texas. It's state law.

The narrative gains momentum when it becomes painfully evident, once again, that the present administration, infamous for shutting out the press, making up convenient back-stories for obvious screw-ups, and clumsily handling of public relations after major blunders, decided it best to create a rousing farce out of an accident. At least that's what it seemed to be, if you believe the snoozing White House press corps, who are still bitching about being jerked around like carney rubes.

The truth of it is the press, and vicariously the American people, were merely playthings for the Dick Cheney media manipulation machine, which began the second Whittington hit the ground. This vice president, like his president, doesn't think we need to know whom our highest elected officials are shooting on weekends. It's apparently none of our business, since we're not paying his salary or this isn't any kind of democracy we've got going here. In other words: Business as usual.

Cheney, as he has done countless times during his weak tenure as VP, disappears immediately following a crisis. He does not materialize before the authorities for 14 or so hours, not unlike Ted Kennedy missing 12 hours after he left a girl to die at Chappaquiddick. Had to get the story straight, or perhaps sober up. Whatever the reason, in the meantime, Cheney's camp cherry-picks an old friend, and owner of the ranch where the shooting occurred, Katharine Armstrong, to contact the local paper and make a vaguely general announcement about an accident. An announcement, by the way, which initially blamed the poor bastard Cheney shot for being in the wrong spot, or some bizarrely concocted horseshit.

Next, it seemed, no one in Cheney's employ thought it of any import to let the White House know the details for many hours, which has caused more than a little rancor between the warring staffs of the vice president and his boss.

The following random series of misrepresentations, poorly presented to the laughably lazy and ill-informed White House press corps by White Press Secretary Scott McClellan starts to reek of cover-up. But there is no cover-up, just a spectacular parade of stupidity. In other words: Business as usual.

For days after the incident, McClellan appears to know less than nothing about facts or timelines or if the vice president had even bothered to talk to his president, which we find out days later, he did not.
Then there is the complete silence by the shooter himself, who then decides to bare his soul to another handpicked media stooge on the home team FOXNEWS network.

Throughout the entire fiasco, the White House press corps blows a gasket, simply because they were'nt handed a story, as they usually are. "How could a local paper get the scoop over us? We're entitled!" Bullshit. This is the same whining we heard from this clan over 30 years ago when a couple of cub reporters for the Washington Post were bringing down a president, while they gave the crooked bastard standing ovations on Air Force One.

Well, although some of it is hilarious, other parts tragic, and mostly confusing, the unfortunate incident bares out the alarmingly evasive behavior of this administration in its utter distain for the press, which, in turn, translates into its disdain for sharing anything with the American people, it's liberal manipulation of reality, and the conspicuous transparency of its inability to simply function in any possible way, shape or form.

The Cheney shooting is sad and pathetic. Those who hate him will revel in it; those who defend him will make excuses for it, or in an ironic twist, pull the ol' Clintonian: "We're not going to belabor this minutia, but get back to the business of serving the American people". Either way you carve it up, that is not our concern here.

What our concern is, is getting to the oft-ignored core of things. And the core of this thing is the way the Bush Administration has consistently displayed an unhinged quality to their governance, this repeated bungling of general tasks of executive branch duties, like protecting the borders, conducting a war, handling a crisis, both natural and political, and a faulty communication system that is at best sloppy, and at worst down-right dishonest.

Most of all, what the Cheney shooting incident and its aftermath frighteningly illustrates is the arrogance of power, and how an authoritative public official and the subject of a newsworthy event can create the story he wants the public to view, provide the news the way he wishes it to be perceived, and usher it along in a timeline of his choosing. This, my friends, is the very definition of fascism: "a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control."
I guess the lack of forthrightness on the part of the vice president might not look so bad if it weren't surrounded by a litany of senate hearings and investigations regarding the administration's mishandling of just about every possible event since it took the reigns in 2001.
In other words: Business as usual.

realitycheck@jamescampion.com 

www.jamescampion.com

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