What's become of the Valerie Plame story? Oh, there it is, on page five, just above "Tom Daschle leads all Dems in race for president...of local bowling league."
Undue uber-attention of late has been on Dick Cheney's hunting accident, where the Veep nearly took advice written in Shakespeare's Henry the VI way too literally. This knocked the Plame story off the front pages, but now there are people attempting to link the two and create one big conspiratorial headline-- the mother of all qualms.
In other words, to paraphrase Matt Hooper, the marine biologist in the movie Jaws, "This was no hunting accident!"
It was bound to happen. Theories are circulating among past, present, and future buyers of the Brooklyn Bridge that Vice President Cheney's hunting "accident" was anything but, and even if it was an accident, that it's a distraction Cheney welcomes.
A quick glance at some recent stories and we find columns such as that by Barry Saunders in the Raleigh News and Observer, who says the shooting was intended as a Godfather-style message to Scooter Libby to keep his mouth shut on any possible future testimony concerning who ordered the leak of information on Valerie Plame.
Naturally, if you're trying to scare somebody out of testifying against you, the first thing you would do is go into the woods 1,600 miles away and bust a cap on somebody completely disconnected from the Plame case.
Should Libby stick to his story that it was Cheney who ordered him to execute the Plame leak, and columnist Saunders is correct, the rest of Cheney's hunting partners should be very nervous -- because one of them is about to wake up next to a horse head.
What if the shooting wasn't meant as a message to Scooter Libby, but was an attempt at headline distraction? John Young, opinion page editor of the Waco Tribune, wrote that for all the distraction Cheney's hunting accident serves, Karl Rove might have ordered it.
Rove is regarded by many as the David Copperfield of inside-the-Beltway sleight of hand political magicians, but the media, and many Democrats, also view him as some kind of semi-evil oracle with the ability to grant GOP wishes. He is considered a virtuoso puppeteer who can somehow skillfully and convincingly operate 50 marionettes with only ten fingers -- and still have one left to pull a trigger.
Attention paid to Karl Rove is often fascinating in its perplexity. The web of political cunning woven by Rove is observed in confused amazement by many politicians and members of the mainstream media -- their heads tipped to the side like Labrador retrievers listening to a Stephen Hawking lecture.
Back in the real world, accusations of attempts by politicians to distract from bad news in Washington via creation of other news elsewhere is nothing new.
As a matter of fact, this Cheney story isn't the first time it's been alleged that arms have been fired as a way of saying "hey, look over there" before running out the door. If you're into thinking that a politicians' first instinct when in trouble is to "create a distraction," then you'll recall a fella named Bill Clinton.
The span of the Clinton Administration saw only three sets of publicized missile launches in eight years -- one at Afghanistan, one at Sudan and the one documented in the Starr Report. Clinton critics of the day alleged that the former was to take attention away the latter.
In 1998, three days after he spoke to the nation about Lewinsky, President Clinton ordered the firing of some $1.2 million cruise missiles into Afghanistan, accomplishing little other than doubling that country's gross domestic product. A pharmaceuticals plant in the Sudan was also attacked, virtually eliminating the global threat posed by aspirin.
Some cried "distraction," just as an increasing number of members of the press and others are doing with the Cheney shooting. In Cheney's case, judging by journalists' obsessive preoccupation with the accident at White House press conferences, it's the press, not Cheney or Rove, who have successfully created a distraction.
The White House Press Corps is angry and skeptical. The inquisition has little to do with the accident, the fact that Cheney had no quail license, or silly rumors about purposeful distraction.
The media feeding frenzy is because Cheney didn't call the press before they called the ambulance. Well, it should be no surprise -- Republicans are the heartless and inconsiderate ones, aren't they?