I missed the brunt of the firestorm last week because I was out snowboarding (first time: it was a blast, but it involved a lot of falling down). A couple of points: I agree with everyone else that Cheney should have gotten it out right away. But I also take Mary Matalin’s point on “Meet the Press” yesterday that there weren’t a lot of good options. If they had just put out a statement immediately saying, “Cheney shot someone–more to follow,” there would have been a frenzy. If they had tried to get more details into a quick statement and any of them had been wrong, they would have been pilloried. Also, if you buy that it would have been hard to get something out in good order Saturday night–with Cheney alone and extremely shaken in Texas, with no staff around–we’re talking about the difference between getting something out Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon. The difference seems insignificant to me. Again, despite all these circumstances, I think they should have alerted the media Saturday night, but it’s understandable why they took longer.
A few more points. My understanding–and I haven’t read the Time and Newsweek cover stories–is that the main point of contention between the White House and Cheney’s office was about whether he should get out and talk about it sooner. Cheney wasn’t being mindlessly stubborn, but was at a loss at the purpose of him talking about it more. When he was told that he looked hunkered down, his response was that he didn’t care how he looked. In any other context, not caring about appearances is considered an admirable trait, but when you become a hate figure like Cheney, they use everything against you.
Finally, his natural reserve was unfairly turned against him. Just because someone doesn’t do a weepy interview on Larry King, it doesn’t mean he has no feelings. A Cheney person used the word “crushed” to describe his state to me. Apparently people had never seen him this way. Even David Gregory yesterday had to admit, yes, Dick Cheney is a human being who has feelings. (Maureen Dowd registered a mild dissent from this sentiment.) I know there are rules to our politics these days, and they include putting your emotions fully on display. But it’s amazing how critics can make you into some kind of monster if you don’t.