I never thought that I would be defending our Vice President.
I dislike a lot of things about Mr. Cheney. His politics reflect the hyper-machismo that seems to infect the Republican party at this time. (For a very lucid, convincing argument of this, check out this link: here). Like any chronic infection, this self-righteous attitude seems to permeate every level of his politics. He obviously is not a puppet of Bush (or even a side-kick apparatchik, as I believe Gore was to Clinton). In the world of the neocons, Cheney is the great high priest while Bush is the less astute, but more approachable, big brother that puts all things right in his own viewpoint. "There, there little Joey. George's gonna make everything okay."
Dick Cheney also has that really annoying lip curl that he does when he talks. It's almost like he's smelling dog shit in the next room and is disgusted with the whole conversation, indeed, life itself.
And he's a hunter.
I recently had somebody ask me what my politics were. It seems that my friend had found from previous dialogue via e-mail that my viewpoints seem 'democratic'; yet North Dakota is a red state--as most prairie states are. Since I live here, this must be what I am. Also, it seemed that since I was a hunter, that that is also indicative of the GOP.
The more I think about it, hunting does seem like it is something that red-blooded American males do. Everybody knows red-blooded American males are not 'in touch with their feelings'; they go out and get what they want and repress emotions. They don't cry when they get a sliver. And if they're hungry, they reach behind the driver's seat of their pickup and take down old granddaddy's shotgun and blast whatever it is that they see. Blood and guts aside, the meat will be roasted on a spit, and he'll eat it off a stick as he cracks a new beer.
There is no doubt that my friend is not that dense to stereotype all hunters this way. But, you have to admit, hunters portray a certain image that doesn't match an east coast liberal about to go to a broadway show.
I don't belong to the NRA. I think that they're a bunch of paranoid freaks that don't see the destructiveness of guns in our culture--even from "responsible" gun owners. However, the antis are so misinformed about what ethical hunting is about, especially in the wide open of the prairie, that their arguments make me want to declare an open season on them.
Our Vice President was out enjoying himself hunting with some colleagues. It has been an activity that I myself have done hundreds of times. PETA and the antis are wrong that it is bloodlust. It's also not a sin to have fun doing it. The chase is a conditioned response that we have in us, precisely because our ancestors hunted and nourished themselves with protein that they killed. Many convincing studies indicate it was this protein in our diet which gives us now the ability to even have this abstract article printed over the ether. The chase excites us, because a powerful, natural drug is injected into our brains:it's called adrenaline. We are excited, because we are designed to be that way through natural selection.
The difficult thing a hunter MUST learn to master is shooting safely when under the influence of the excitement and the adrenaline. It is a difficult thing to do, as police officers under pursuit of a fleeing criminal will attest. A certain "tunnel-vision" is the result, allowing you to focus on the task at hand (killing), but also endangering you and others for a split second. This, no doubt, was the situation that Mr. Cheney experienced when he shot his colleague while out quail hunting recently.
All over the blogosphere there are articles denouncing Mr. Cheney for his irresponsibility and actions. In fact, the very words printed in the title of this article were the parting words of one such opinion.
Was Mr. Cheney responsible? Absolutely. It is bogus to say that it was Harry Whittington's fault because he didn't announce himself when he returned to the hunting party. If he had, he probably wouldn't have been shot. Nevertheless, there are always situations that pop up where you do not know what may happen in the seconds after the flush of game.
A buddy of mine and I were out hunting in North Dakota a while back. His dog went on point on a pheasant in a cattail slough. As he walked up for the flush, the bird sprang up on my side of the slough. I lifted my shotgun for a shot and just micro-moments before I pulled the trigger, his dog jumped straight up in the air in an attempt to catch the low flying pheasant. Had I shot, I almost certainly would have killed or seriously injured his dog.
With that being said, is something like this apt to happen to even the best, most responsible hunters? Yes. That's why they are called 'accidents'. Hunting, albeit a relatively safe sport (much safer than snowmobiling or even ice fishing statistically), is not without risk.
The pundits who take this opportunity to lambast the Vice President only show their ignorance of the hunting world. Which makes open-minded, articulate Democrats like myself look all the more like a rednecked Bushie.
Hunting with ethics is an honorable act. When a person steps outside into the great-wide-open with a goal to kill and eat, that one is closer to our true natural state than any dweeb sitting down and writing opinions in a blog on the internet.
Only 6 1/2 more months until fall hunting.