GWU Issues Management

A blog established for the George Washington University School of Political Management's Issues Management course.

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Location: Washington, D.C., United States

A middle aged white guy, who likes to think, talk and, too infrequently, write about politics, religion and gadgets.

Monday, February 13, 2006


OK, I looked a little more closely at that web site I asked you to review in the previous post. Thank you walmart walter iii for a thoughtful post and I agree with you. This is some citizen with, frankly, few communications skills and no theme to the site. It doesn't rise to a level deserving of our note. walmart walter iii, you are excused from further commentary this week.

So, everyone else, let's comment on something more important, Dick Cheney's hunting accident. I thought Andrew Sullivan struck the right note below. I feel badly for Mr. Wittington. Like Sullivan and everyone else, I look forward to Jon Stewart's take tonight. And much as I would like to interpret this incident as revealing some larger truth about the Bush/Cheney Administration, it was, in the end, a hunting accident in which, fortunately, no one died. Actually, I kind of pity Cheney.

What do you think?

Andrew Sullivan The Daily Dish: The Cheney Kerfuffle: "Monday, February 13, 2006
The Cheney Kerfuffle
13 Feb 2006 04:46 pm
It's immensely enjoyable, isn't it, although I've yet to read or hear the best jokes. I guess I'll wait for Jon Stewart tonight. All I have to add is that the way in which the veep's office handled the incident reminded me exactly of similar mishaps among Britain's royal family. The job of telling the media is handed to some unfortunate lackey or courtier; the official line is always that the prince/king/queen/Cheney did nothing wrong; there's always a short media blackout so as not to put the monarch on the spot; then there's a backlash. The British royals have gotten better than they used to be. Our own elected monarchy could take a few lessons from them in media management. "


Blogger chitown_grrrl said...

Wow- I just watched the Daily Show, and I really love Jon Stewart. Anytime I'm having a bad day, my new mantra will be "But Dick Cheney, Vice President of the United States of America, shot a 78 year old man in the face."
I do feel terrible for the man who was shot, and am glad that he will be ok. However, I honestly have little sympathy for Cheney. And the fact that his office continues to maintain that "he did nothing wrong" baffles me. HE SHOT A MAN IN THE FACE. That's certainly not doing everything right.
I think the underlying issue is the type of hunting he was doing. I come from a family of hunters, and I respect hunting to a point. But what Cheney does is not hunting, it's just murder. There is nothing at all sporting about a man with a gun unleashed on caged in animals with no defenses that have been taught to trust.
That's my two cents. Jon Stewart said it better.

8:25 PM  
Blogger RonBurgundy said...

I also watched the Daily Show and might I say well done. They took it over the top, but that is their job. It was pretty hilarious. While Stewart did a great job, Leno and Letterman were not far behind.

I talked to few former political officials and we agreed that politicans need to stop believing that the best way to handle a crisis, issue, and/or uncomfortable situation is to lie. Unfortunately that is the theme of this administration so I expect nothing else, but seriously, Cheney, you did nothing wrong?
Do not pass off the job of notifying the press about this incident to the farm/ranch owner. You did the shooting. I have no sympathy for Cheney, nor the man shot. He knew who he was going hunting with........I would definitely expect that man to shoot me in the face, no matter who I am. If you are going to hunt quail on a farm where you are basically guaranteed to kill something, make sure to go with people you really, really trust.

Does anyone read Carl Hiaasen? He has a book with a very similar incident in one of his novels.

10:28 AM  
Blogger Johnny Utah said...

Let’s write off Cheney’s actions as an accident. The world is an imperfect place. And while it makes me feel guilty, I do take pleasure in the fact that in could not have happened to a better, or is it worse, person (required snide side comment? check).

The WH broke the cardinal rule of crisis/issues management -- and I think it’s safe to deem shooting a man with a shotgun a crisis: get the news out and get it out fast. This gives you the chance to control at least a small aspect of the story. Unfortunately, the WH has not learned: it’s not the crime, it’s the cover up, or even the mere appearance of the a cover up that causes the most damage. By delaying the release of the news to the media, they made themselves look guilty, regardless of whether there was something legitimate to hide.

Cheney and Co. should have come out guns blazing -- to coin a phrase --- and released everything immediately. Instead this story will continue to cause undue pain for the Administration, like a untreated, festering bedsore.

Moral of the story: don’t hunt with Dick Cheney. Not even big time Republican donors are safe.

And Ron, I've read Carl H. His novel Skinny Dip was great.

11:20 AM  
Blogger roscoe p coldchain said...

When I first heard that Dick Cheney shot someone, my initial thought was that it wasn't an accident... but, thankfully, it was.

The initial stories on the shooting seemed odd to me. The emphasis on Cheney not doing anything wrong made me uncomfortable. I mean, he shot someone. In the face! He didn't clip someone's leg, his gun was pointing at the guy's face! I understand it was an accident, but to emphasize that Cheney did nothing wrong irked me.

Also, two other observations. Did anyone catch that he was missing one hunting permit. This was a mistake made by the liscense issuer, but Cheney mailed them a $7 check. Attention to detail after the fact, he shot someone in the face and is worried about a $7 liscense. And second, the guy who was shot was taken to the hospital by an ambulance that is always with the VP. Guess that ole' ticker's struggling to make it to '08!

Ron - are you talking about Sick Puppy?

2:09 PM  
Blogger Wal-Mart Walter III said...

Despite my general absolution I wanted to say something regarding this topic. That was just a horrible way of handling the situation. It was an accident no matter what anybody says and should have been immediately addressed in the media. It was a Saturday afternoon, there was a historic blizzard approaching the East Coast, and the Olympics were in full swing. Although this was always a story that was going to make headlines, its severity would have greatly decreased if it was just “put out there.” The cover up has become worse than the crime and has given something else for David Gregory to whine about with Scott McClellan in the briefing room.

The cheap “shots” about this story have been pretty hysterical.

4:41 AM  
Blogger nkatona said...

Maybe it is me being from Wisconsin but I was not bothered by the fact that Cheney shot a guy, I mean it happens. It is not like he pointed the gun at his buddy and said "Hey Walter" so he could get a good shot at his face. Trust me I never thought I would defend the VP but it was an accident.

I do find a few things interesting though, the first being his fine for not having the proper hunting license. I have a feeling that if any other Joe Schmo went hunting and shot his buddy in the face he would receive more than a fine, but then again it is Texas so who knows. Shooting and killing people down there is a sport, so ah well.

Secondly could Scott McClellan have handled this situation any worse? I think not. He was caught with his pants down, granted Cheney's fault for not telling anyone in the WH but still. McClellan joked about the incident before the man had a heart attack, and then was very somber...poor job Scott. Playing coy can only work so long, the WH helped this story get legs, but maybe for a purpose. Have we heard anything about Iran or North Korea, or the budget this one Republican citizen put it on a talk show this week in DC he was glad for this incident because it allowed the nation to focus on something trivial instead of the real problems facing our country.

8:24 AM  
Blogger ajyass said...

I agree with others, not releasing information to the press right away only makes an issue more of an issue. If the press had been told of the shooting right away, than the only story could be what happened, but because of the lag time the story became not only the shooting but the "cover-up" as well.
Now this story has made people question why Cheney was trying to hide this and what else he may be hiding.
I am also glad the Cheney took the blame for the shooting in the interview yesterday. The "Cheney did nothing wrong" statement was ridiculous. If you shoot someone in the face, then you did something wrong. It may have been an accident, but still.

Also, has anyone heard anything from the NRA about this incident?

8:40 AM  
Blogger Princeton Dem said...

I was having a hard time understanding why the Vice President didn't come out and apologize to the man he shot until I read a story in the Post yesterday (or maybe the day before). It was almost unfathomable to me how the Veep (or any other reasonable human being) could shoot an aquaintance in the face, and not have the urge to go on the record with a serious apology to the man and his family.

At any rate, the story quoted a number of Republican sources as saying that he had practiced surpressing his feelings in public for so long, in the interest of being a tougher politician, that expressing himself just wasn't an option. Their position was that he no longer had the capacity for any kind of public display of anything, other than articulating a political message.

While I'm sure that kind of detachment is a necessity for high-level public office today (Clinton was famous - infamous? - for his ability to compartmentalize events in his personal life), I think it could be a serious problem. Can we have a government capable of reaching out to and providing at least some services for those who are disenfranchised, if those running the govenment have had to surrender their empathy in order to reach high public office?

8:41 AM  
Blogger ABPITT said...

I did not get to watch the Daily Show, because of TiVo malfunctions; however, I found reading some of the jokes just as funny. I agree with everyone that the key failure in issues management in this situation was they way in which it was handled. The appearance of a cover up of course draws more attention than might otherwise be drawn and imposes questions to the "accident" claim. Accident or no accident this situation was handled poorly and any hope of not drawing the considerable attention that it has was lost in the way the information was released to the public and press.

10:21 AM  
Blogger SoCal Girl said...

I feel sorry for the whole Bush Administration. When I saw the news the first day (Emphasis on FIRST, because I think its getting blown up a little too much)it just made me laugh because it seems to be one thing after another for the poor Bush Administration. I think that the media is making way too big of a deal about this. It was obviously an accident and should be left at that. And frankly, I would like to know what else is going on in the world. A powerful leader of a powerful nation is dying and all I've seen about on the news for the last four days is Dick Cheney's hunting mishap. Can we please move on?

2:30 PM  
Blogger skeeba said...

brief comments: one, no sympathy is owed the Bush Adm. There is a simple communications plan that could easily be executed that would have made this thing seem smaller. The reason the media made a big deal about it is b/c it HAD TIME to! C'mon Dub-ya! You're all over Murtha like a dog and you fumble Katrina and muff this. Give me a break. Second, yes, accident, wrong it's not his fault. Let me ask ol' Dickey boy this...if one of his children went hunting with him and his kid accidently shot another person on the crew, would Dick not be scolding his kid for ignorance for failing to use the utmost caution. Personally, I think this is a microcosm for this whole mental make-up. Does no one else see the eerie parallels between this and Iraq? (If that doesn't sound like wacko-liberal I dont' know what does) BTW: haven't seen Jon Stewart yet, tivo'd it.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Boston Dem said...

The White House totally botched this whole situation from a PR perspective. In fact, I think that this only served to underscore the fact that Scott McLellan is a liability for the Bush administration and that Bush would be better served by someone who is so terrible at putting the lid on a story. Aside from that, Cheney should have been trotted out in front of the cameras on Sunday and they should have managed this as an issue rather than letting it turn into a crisis. They let the "cover-up" become the story and they put themselves on the defense by not addressing what happened in an up front manner. So from a communications standpoint, the Bush administration failed miserably on this one.

From a humor standpoint, I hope this story stays around for a while. My first reaction when I heard about the shooting was that David Letterman was going to foam at the mouth once he caught word that Cheney shot his friend. Cheney was hard-pressed to make himself look like any more of an scrouge and he certainly out-did himself with his actions last weekend.

3:31 PM  
Blogger green elephant said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:10 PM  
Blogger green elephant said...

This was a perfect event for the news media to use against Cheney. Even reporters get tired of speculating about people in power. It's pretty obvious that Cheney was the worst visible case of non-disclosure within the administration, if not all of Washington. Notice how the reports of Cheney going to his "undisclosed location" have trailed off over the years.

Bushites were quick to point out other cases of politicians withholding information on a personal crisis (i.e., Reid's "mini-stroke"). Given emotional uncertainty, releasing less info than Max Baucus after wife Wanda's garden-center rampage seems understandable. I do, however, think his explanation of agreeing to the information release with the former parks and game head was quite dubious. If he was thinking clearly enough to plan that out, he could have done it himself through his office.

Cheney had the ability to prevent his minions from being so flippant in their media contact. That's where I think his most controllable mistake was. Plus, he probably could have given a better televized statement than McClellan's characteristic fumbling.

5:29 PM  
Blogger BlueGirl said...

It was an accident. I mean, I feel bad Cheney - he shot his friend in the face for god's sake. Could he and his office handled it a bit differently? Absolutely.

This story would not have been nearly as huge, if the VP or even a staffer would have come forward with some sort of information on the accident promtly. The time lapse allowed for reporters, pundits, etc. to speculate and make this a much larger story then need be.

The fact that the Bush-Cheney reign is exactly know for it's "open door" policy did not exactly help.

8:16 AM  

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