Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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You've probably already heard this. But Harry Whittington, the guy Dick Cheney shot in the hunting accident on Saturday, has had what the hospital is referring to as a 'minor heart attack'. Apparently one of the pellets from the shotgun blast migrated into the area of his heart and caused the cardiac event.

The details remain sketchy. But it's hard to have much confidence at this point that any of the information we're gettng (or have gotten) is complete, timely or accurate.

Like the headline to Paul Begala's post over at TPMCafe says, Dick Cheney sure is lucky that most of the reporters covering this story aren't reporters.

Here's a passage from a piece out from ABCNews ...

After difficulty getting information from Cheney's staff, ABC News learned from sources mostly outside the White House that the vice president's Secret Service contingent had notified the local sheriff an hour after the vice president accidentally shot prominent Texas lawyer Harry Whittington with a pellet gun while hunting for quail.

A pellet gun? Like when bad guys whack people with a sawed-off pellet gun? Please. A shotgun is not a 'pellet gun'. It's a shotgun.

As long as we're on the subject, where's Vice President Cheney? Is he appearing in public any time soon?

Details, from AP ...

Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahren said that about an hour after Cheney shot Whittington, the head of the Secret Service's local office called the Kenedy County sheriff to report the accident. "They made arrangements at the sheriff's request to have deputies come out and interview the vice president the following morning at 8 a.m. and that indeed did happen," Zahren said.

At least one deputy showed up at the ranch's front gate later in the evening and asked to speak to Cheney but was turned away by the Secret Service, Zahren said. There was some miscommunication that arrangements had already been made to interview the vice president, he said.

Gilbert San Miguel, chief deputy sheriff for Kenedy County, said the report had not been completed Monday and that it was being handled as a hunting accident, although he would not comment about what that meant they were investigating.

He said his department's investigation had found that alcohol was not a factor in the shooting, but he would not elaborate about how that had been determined. The Texas Parks and Wildlife hunting accident report also said neither Cheney nor Whittington appeared to be under the influence of intoxicants or drugs.

All sounds pretty transparent, information flowing freely.

Terrible how some miscommunication led to that sheriff's deputy come to interview Cheney being turned away.

Small world.

We noted earlier that little more than an hour after the Cheney shooting incident, Karl Rove was on the phone with Katharine Armstrong, the ranch owner who witnessed the incident and was designated as the person who would speak to the press. Turns out her dad helped Rove set up his first business.

This from a 2003 article in The New Yorker ...

Rove left the Bush pre-Presidential operation to work in the gubernatorial campaign of Bill Clements, an oilman who in 1978 became Texas’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction. Rove was appointed Clements’s chief of staff. In 1981, he left to set up a direct-mail business in Austin called Karl Rove + Company. This put him in a position to make more money than you can as a politician’s full-time employee, and allowed him to work for many Republican candidates at the same time. Rove had the imprimatur of Texas’s Republican aristocracy from the beginning, through his connection to the Bush family and to Clements. An early financier of Karl Rove + Company was Tobin Armstrong, the owner of a Texas ranch (it was on land leased from Armstrong Rove and Bill Frist were planning to go hunting) and the husband of Anne Armstrong, a former Republican Cabinet officer. Becoming chairman of the College Republicans provided Rove with an introduction to such people, which may be one reason that winning mattered so much to him; it also seems that Rove, the self-made man, gets pleasure as well as practical advantage from his association with the Texas upper crust, people who give off the glow of ease, charm, and connection which he detected in George W. Bush the first time they met.

I guess they go way back.

It just gets better and better. Karl Rove had a chat with Katharine Armstrong, the Bush pioneer and estate owner, who was on the hunt and is the only eyewitness who has been allowed to talk to the press. Apparently within 90 minutes of the shooting.

And it was her idea to go to the press, right?

This is from a late piece in the Houston Chronicle (emphasis added)...

Dr. David Blanchard, director of emergency services, said Whittington had more than 10 shotgun pellets embedded in his face, neck and torso as a result of Saturday's accidental shooting. He said the pellets would not be removed, but added it is normal to closely observe a patient with multiple gunshot wounds.

Before proceeding, let's stop and award Dr. Blanchard a special award for understatement of the week.

In any case, yesterday I asked hunters to chime in on what they made of the story. Now I'd like to hear from doctors.

From a layman's point of view, I'd figure you'd want to remove these pellets if you could do so without too much difficulty. (Depending on the metal, there might be some risk of blood poisoning. Who knows?) We're hearing that these were basically just superficial wounds. But if they're making no attempt to remove them, I'd figure that means they're imbedded pretty deep. Or perhaps, if they're in the neck, they may be close to major arteries or something.

In any case, the floor is open to the doctors. Can we infer anything from the fact that the doctors treating Harry Whittington aren't trying to remove the shot from his body?

Late Update: The Austin American-Statesman says Whittington was hit by as many as 200 pellets. Some were removed; others weren't.

I was out of touch with the press follies for much of the day today because I had to make my way -- delayed a day -- back to New York City. But on this Cheney stuff, just for the moment let's set aside all the questions about how the veep managed to shoot Harry Whittington.

Let's put ourselves back on the scene of the shootout some time Saturday afternoon. The accident happens. All is chaos for a while. Whittington is medivaced off to the local hospital.

Now, it's early Saturday evening. Presumably the veep isn't in a great mood. Who's going to bring up the question of letting the press know? "Mr. Vice President, we have to ..."

Well, you get the idea. Did no one want to pop the question? Did they just figure maybe they could brazen it out? (That one gets my vote.) What do you think?