Cheney and Chappaquiddick
You know a politician is in trouble when even shooting a lawyer cant boost his approval ratings. Okay, Ive added my little bit to the glut of Dick Cheney (and lawyer) jokes. Oh, have a couple more: By now I suspect even President Bush has heard about it. If Cheney hadnt had other priorities, the United States might have won in Vietnam.
All kidding aside, the incident may have deeper significance as a parable. An innocent man is shot, while the bird gets away. The War on Terror in a nutshell.
The shooting occurred on Saturday, and by Sunday night it was clear that Lenos and Lettermans gag writers must already be meeting in emergency session. Not since Monica Lewinsky had they been handed an opportunity like this one.
How would the Republicans handle this? The answer came the next day, when Rush Limbaugh opened his show with ... a Chappaquiddick joke! Say what you will, the mans spirit is invincible, his wit inexhaustible. And you thought this incident would shut him up, did you? You thought the Democrats would have the last laugh for once, did you? Guess again. Republicans have a consoling saying in times of stress: Well always have Chappaquiddick.
Then Rush found his own deeper significance in the story. The liberal media were harping on it, he explained, because here was a chance to embarrass the Bush administration! No doubt if Cheney had slipped on a banana peel on Pennsylvania Avenue, theyd had harped on that too, for the same reason. Rush is nothing if not unpredictable. In a pinch, hell always have Chappaquiddick. (Notice how the liberal media covered that up!)
Im reminded of a stern Catholic reader who assured me, after I wrote a column on Mozarts 250th birthday, that the only reason the media noted the occasion is that Mozart was a Mason. Whats more, he is now roasting in hell. Without trying to excuse Mozarts faults, I reflected that some people may get indignant about too many things at once. I may be prone to this myself when I think about the Bush administration.
Which brings me back to Cheney. If you ask me, nobody in Washington has been more overdue for deflation. For a while it looked as if the special prosecutor might achieve this, but he lacked the necessary light touch. The task has now fallen to others.
In the words of P.G. Wodehouse, Meanwhile, Fate, unseen, was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing glove. The moment Cheney squeezed the trigger, we may surmise, his pacemaker skipped a beat. Imagine the thoughts that raced through his head as his lawyer friend, 78 years old, slumped to the ground. Jail! Lawsuits! Impeachment! The (liberal) media! How would he explain this to the boss, if it got back to the Oval Office?
If? There was no way to cover it up for more than a few hours. He would have to think fast. Even Karl Rove would have a hard time spinning this one.
Fortunately, the lawyer wasnt gravely wounded, and anyway, he was whisked off to the hospital in the ambulance that follows Cheney wherever he goes, now put to an unforeseen use. When the dust settled, there would be no mug shots or police lineups or, thank heaven, prosecutors, special or otherwise. Just a little indignity. But wasnt that bad enough? Cheney isnt usually associated with slapstick, but thats what this whole thing would look like to the public when it came out. If handcuffs or manacles were bad, the Leno-Letterman pillory wasnt a whole lot better. Cheney could already hear the coast-to-coast guffaws.
Well, at least it wasnt Chappaquiddick or Monica Lewinsky, let alone Watergate. Lets keep this in perspective. As Rush was quick to point out, Cheney hadnt left anyone to die, or tried to cover up a criminal or cowardly act, or engaged in absurd semantics. All the historical analogies worked in his favor.
All the same, the Bush administration didnt especially need more slapstick right now. With so many crises hitting the fan at the same moment and his own party ready to revolt, President Bush may be in no mood for historical perspective. The old battle cry Well always have Chappaquiddick just wont cut it anymore.
|Copyright © 2006 by the
Griffin Internet Syndicate,
a division of Griffin Communications
This column may not be reprinted in print or
Internet publications without express permission
of Griffin Internet Syndicate
Archive Table of Contents
Return to the SOBRANS home page.
|FGF E-Package columns by Joe Sobran, Sam Francis, Paul Gottfried, and others are available in a special e-mail subscription provided by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. Click here for more information.|