Letter to Dick

A Letter to the Vice President ©2006 by Pat Wray Dick Cheney Vice President United States of America Dear Mr. Vice President: I’ve been following your unfortunate quail hunting incident in Texas and I want you to know, I don’t intend to jump all over you like so many of the liberal media. I’m also a hunter, and though I’ve never actually pulled the trigger on a hunting partner, I’ve come close enough to know how easy it can be. I understand your friend Mr. Whittington didn’t announce his return to your hunting group after he split off to pick up a downed bird. That is a real problem; bird hunters have to work pretty hard to keep track of each other, especially in the thick stuff where quail hide. The folks I hunt with tend to talk and yell and wave to each other as we approach birds; it would be easier if we had a formal protocol like you Texas hunters evidently have. White House Spokesman Scott McClellen himself said “the protocol was not followed by Mr. Whittington, when it came to notifying others that he was there.” That was a bit of a surprise to me. In all the places I’ve hunted, the closest thing we have to a protocol pretty much begins and ends with the person holding the gun. He or she decides whether or not it’s safe to pull the trigger. End of story. Another thing I’ve noticed about your Texas hunting experience seems to involve a difference in language. I’m not talking about accent here, but word usage. For example, your spokesmen seemed fond of the word, peppered, as in ‘Mr. Whittington was unfortunately peppered.’ Now, peppered is a word most hunters would associate with the sort of long distance shot that penetrates the skin only barely, if at all. Pepperings happen most frequently when a shot fired into the air carries over a field or hilltop and hits another hunter on a downward trajectory, as it falls to earth. A ‘peppering’ would be dangerous only if a pellet hit an open eyeball. I have actually been peppered twice myself and in neither case did I even bleed. What happened to Mr. Whittington was not a peppering, Mr. Vice President. It was a shooting. Here’s a rule of thumb in case you face a similar dilemma in the future: Peppering victims curse; shooting victims fall down. Peppering victims go on hunting; shooting victims go to the ICU. Peppering victims’ hearts race; shooting victims’ hearts stop. Any questions? I wish I could say I enjoyed the way your spokesmen and even Governor Jeb Bush of Florida initially treated the whole event with humor. But we hunters almost never think of hunting accidents as funny. A whole bunch of hunters took offense that your people, and by extension, you, thought it was some kind of joke. Of course, the humorous treatment pretty much dried up when Mr. Whittington experienced a shot-related heart attack. Correct me if I’m wrong, Mr. Vice President, but doesn’t a heart attack involve the death of at least part of the heart muscle? About that point I expected the National Rifle Association (NRA) to pile into you. The NRA sponsors gun safety and hunting clinics for both children and adults and claims to speak and stand up for hunters. They have a notoriously dyspeptic approach to gun safety issues; after all, they nearly eviscerated John Kerry during the 2004 Presidential election when they felt he held his shotgun in an unsafe manner. Your accident would seem to have been the ideal opportunity to educate people about hunting safety, but the NRA has been totally silent about your situation and when asked, refused comment. It’s almost as if the NRA is ashamed of you but is so worried about maintaining their political connection with your administration that they are willing to give you a pass. They must really like you, Mr. Vice President, to so completely abdicate their self-appointed guardianship of hunters and hunting safety. Oh, and then there’s the beer you had for lunch while you were hunting. This must be another one of those Texas hunting anomalies, so just in case you decide to hunt in other states, please allow me to offer a little advice. Hunters don’t drink during a hunting day. Period. We don’t argue about whether or not one or two beers actually diminishes our reactions or our thought processes. We just don’t drink at all until the guns are put away. “Pick up a bottle or a can, and put down your gun” is the rule followed by every hunter worthy of the title. Oh, and one other thing, Mr. Vice President. I’m a little surprised you didn’t know about the requirement to purchase a Texas Upland Gamebird Stamp. Must have been faulty intelligence. Just for future reference, bird stamps are not considered optional, even if they’ve only been in place for a few months. And ignorance is never considered an excuse—except perhaps in Iraq. I want to tell you how impressed I was, Mr. Vice President, when you agreed to an interview with Fox News and talked so honestly about the shooting. Only five days after the incident and there you were, taking personal responsibility. Are you a great role model, or what? I appreciate how tough it must have been to undergo the grilling by Fox News. Everyone knows how hard those folks are on the Administration. Brit Hume was really playing hardball with you. No wait, I’m confused. Hardball is what you play when you disclose the identity of an undercover CIA agent in an effort to punish her husband. Oops, sorry. That’s treason. Anyway, good luck in the future, Mr. Vice President. I sure hope next time you accidentally shoot someone while hunting illegally and drinking beer that people are a lot more understanding, but you know how the liberal media is. Your friend, Pat Wray