The overblown fuss over Cheney's hunting accident
I defer to no one in my dislike of Dick Cheney. As the most influential vice-president in our history, he was a leading architect of our disastrous Iraq invasion. Who can forget his nonsensical arguments linking 9/11 to Saddam, his prediction about how U.S. troops would be welcomed as liberators, and his glowing claims of our "progress" in Iraq?
Beyond Iraq, his secretive dealings with the oil industry, his disdain for the genuine interests of working-class voters, and his long record as a right-wing extremist mark him as the kind of politician who is unsuited for national leadership. Moreover, his macho war-hawk image seems to clash with his background as a Vietnam draft-dodger.
Having said all this, I contend that the fuss over how and when the news of Cheney's accidental shooting of a hunting companion was revealed has been overblown. I am retiree who had a 40-year career as a journalist. But I regard the controversy over how and when Cheney's hunting/shooting episode was disclosed to the public as a synthetic crisis produced by the media. They suffer from an occupational obsession about being first with the news, even when the news, as in this case, really is not all that vital, considering the serious state of current domestic and foreign affairs.
Sure, it is important to know that our Vice-President accidentally shot a hunting companion. But did it really matter whether we learned this on Saturday, when the accident actually happened, or the next day or two?
In particular, I blame the cable news channels that are saddled with the responsibility of filling air time all day and night, even when there is no legitimate news to report. I point to MSNBC's Chris Matthews, who I normally admire as one of TV's most skilled interviewers, as one of the most blatant promoters of this so-called crisis.
I confess that my sour view of the Cheney episode probably reflects, in part, my disinterest in hunting as a sport. As a boy raised in the Bronx's city streets, I never touched a gun until I was in the Army at 18. Nor have I touched a firearm during the 60 years since my military service.
Nevertheless, I do take pride in having qualified as a marksman, firing an M-1 Garand rifle during infantry training. I subsequently became equally skilled with a Thompson sub-machine gun, my authorized weapon when I was subsequently assigned to the Signal Corps.
Meaning no disrespect for ardent hunters, I must also confess that, as a city boy, I do not grasp the joy one experiences shooting harmless birds in the air. For me, the idea of a sport means hitting a baseball, smacking a tennis or golf ball, throwing and catching a football, or otherwise competing on a field where the opponent is a fellow human being.