The Spectacle Blog

Yeah, Just Like Chappaquiddick

By on 2.15.06 | 10:48AM

David Ignatius goes for broke and takes the media tantrum over the Cheney hunting accident to new heights today.

Nobody died at Armstrong Ranch, but this incident reminds me a bit of Sen. Edward Kennedy's delay in informing Massachusetts authorities about his role in the fatal automobile accident at Chappaquiddick in 1969. That story, and dozens of others about the Kennedy family, illustrates how wealthy, powerful people can behave as if they are above the law. For my generation, the fall of Richard Nixon is the ultimate allegory about how power can corrupt and destroy. It begins not with venality but with a sense of God-given mission.

Ignatius really should have left out the Nixon link -- it gave away his motive as singing of the press's glory days. Ah, when we took down a national official who disdained us. If anyone here has the "sense of God-given mission," it's today's arrogant press corps.

But Chappaquiddick? Seriously? Let us list the differences:

1- Mr. Ignatius provides the first point on this list: no one died at the Armstrong Ranch. This isn't a slight concession. Let's say it again: no one died. Hopefully Mr. Whittington is okay and there are no further complications, but I think it's safe to say that the extent of his injuries and Mary Jo Kopechne's are vastly different.

2- Vice President Cheney didn't leave Mr. Whittington for dead. Secret Service medical personnel immediately treated him and then he was transported to the hospital within an hour (see timeline). Sen. Kennedy sat on the bank of the Poucha Pond for a "15 to 20" minutes, then walked back to the location of the party, was told he should report the accident, but instead went back to his hotel and hit the hay.

3- Vice President Cheney didn't wait until the next day to contact police after consulting with his lawyer, family, and political advisor (in Sen. Kennedy's case, Ted Sorensen). See FBI file here.

Really, the only party Cheney delayed contacting was the White House press corps. Cheney's victim was quickly treated, and the proper legal authorities were notified. Sen. Kennedy's victim was trapped in the car, possibly still alive and breathing off of air pockets while he slept off his rum and Cokes. Mr. Ignatius, Cheney's hunting accident isn't like Chappaquiddick at all.

UPDATE: A friend adds, "If it's just like Chappaquiddick, then Cheney should get a pass."

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