George W. Bush has started appearing now and then before audiences that haven't been sanitized for his protection, but Dick Cheney doesn't usually take such chances. Today's vice presidential appearance at the Washington Nationals' home opener shows why.
Despite all those W's on the caps, the D.C. crowd gave Cheney something like a Bronx cheer. The audio on the video isn't terribly clear, the Associated Press is going out of its way to say that there were "some cheers" amid all the booing, and the Washington Post suggests that the boo birds came out only after Cheney's first pitch bounced before home plate. But Salon's Walter Shapiro was at the game, and he reports that it wasn't like that. A veteran of many opening days over the years-- hey, Walter, some of us have day jobs -- Shapiro says the vice president was "booed more raucously and lustily than any other public figure I can recall derided while throwing out the first ball at a ballpark." And the booing started, Shapiro says, long before Cheney fired off -- would that be a bad choice of words? -- his errant pitch.
Perhaps the White House thought it could avoid the catcalls by sending Cheney out to the mound accompanied by a couple of Iraq war vets. That sort of boo-protection policy may have limited the damage when Bush threw out the first pitch in Cincinnati last week -- and, to be fair, Ohio isn't the District of Columbia -- but it apparently wasn't enough to save the man who's hitting .190.