A few days ago I wrote that Dick Cheney’s hunting accident could actually help him. While my premise was correct, the events that have transpired since then have conspired to change my assessment.
In my blog I wrote:
"See, there are gaffes and then there are lethal mistakes. A lethal mistake in politics is a mistake that reinforces a negative that people already believe. For example, Mike Dukakis in a tank reinforced what people already believed: Democrats are weak on defense… What does this gaffe underscore? That Cheney goes hunting…"
I also wrote, "…And because nobody was seriously injured, this whole thing will blow over in a few days and be viewed as almost laughable."
Since then, things have changed. The victim’s situation has worsened, and Cheney has failed to even address the issue.
My analysis that "lethal mistakes" are those that reinforce a negative that people already believe has proven, unfortunately, true. In this case, Cheney’s behavior underscores a negative people already believe about this White House: That they are aloof, secretive, don’t like to make mistakes, and resent the media. Additionally, it underscores the Katrina problem: failure to quickly respond to a crisis.
Today’s USA TODAY gives Cheney some advice: "Go to Corpus Christi. Comfort your friend. Hold a news conference in the hospital parking lot. Explain what happened. Express anguish. Take responsibility."
Think of how Bill Clinton might have addressed this issue. He would have held a press conference in the parking lot with the victim’s wife. He would have hugged her. He would have held up his family Bible and said, "This good book has pulled me through the last several days, and it’s going to pull my friend through the next several trying days."
Of course, Cheney lacks the empathetic and theatrical abilities possessed by Bill Clinton. But he could still issue a statement. That is the least he should do.