Dick Cheney, responsibility acceptor

There's a first time for everything.

Published February 16, 2006 1:57PM (EST)

There are plenty of nuggets to digest from Dick Cheney's interview with Brit Hume Wednesday -- the vice president's shout-out to Scooter Libby, his announcement of an executive order allowing him to declassify classified information -- but the oddest thing yet may be the way that David Sanger and Anne Kornblut describe the sit-down in today's New York Times.

Cheney's "approach to the interview," they say, "was to deal with" the shooting of Harry Whittington "as he might deal with a policy decision that turned out badly and to accept responsibility as a way of moving on."


Maybe we've missed something over the last five years, but we're having a hard time conjuring up memories of Dick Cheney even acknowledging that any "policy decisions" have "turned out badly," let alone "accepting responsibility" for them. This is, after all, the man who said in his October 2004 debate with John Edwards: "What we did in Iraq was exactly the right thing to do. If I had it to recommend all over again, I would recommend exactly the same course of action."

And indeed, that same "I'd do it the same way again today" approach prevailed in Cheney's interview Wednesday -- not when it came to shooting Whittington, of course, but when the subject turned to how Cheney handled the aftermath. Asked whether, in light of all that has happened since then, he thinks now that it was a good idea to put the shooting story out -- slowly -- through hunting host Katharine Armstrong rather than through the White House Press Office, Cheney said: "I still do."

Cheney dismissed the concerns that he had kept the public -- and even the president -- in the dark about the incident by suggesting that the only people who took issue with his actions are those in the White House press corps. "I had a bit of the feeling that the press corps was upset because, to some extent, it was about them -- they didn't like the idea that we called the Corpus Christi Caller-Times instead of the New York Times," he said. "But it strikes me that the Corpus Christi Caller-Times is just as valid a news outlet as the New York Times is, especially for covering a major story in south Texas."

If Cheney's right, perhaps we should start searching the archives of the Caller-Times for all those "accountability moments" we seem to have missed.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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