WASHINGTON, Feb. 15
On the scale of 1-10, with "10" being David Gergen and "1" being President Bush, how much does Vice President Cheney care about dancing to the tune played by a pound-of-flesh-demanding Gang of 500?
(Insert your own joke here.)
The choices: (a) do nothing for another news cycle; (b) an exclusive interview with one groveling, well-chosen interviewer; (c) a Ferraro-style let-it-all-hang-out press conference ("Mr. Vice President, on another matter, what did you know about Scooter Libby's media strategy regarding Joe Wilson?"); (d) do nothing for another TWO news cycles; or (e):
"I have been reminded of something this week: That in national service, good intentions are not always enough, and that sometimes conventions have become conventions for a good reason. Certainly my responsibility is to all Americans, and not just to Mr. Whittington and the President."
"I should have reflected on that in those harried hours when we were focused on Harry, and should have realized that an early -- if quick -- account of the accident would have been welcome, when I was more concerned about getting you a complete accounting. I'm going to stick to fishing for awhile. But sooner or later, I'll be back for that quail that got away. With, God willing, Harry at my side." (FLASH DARREL HAMMOND SMILE)
"I am sorry about what happened, of course. In hunting, as in other great outdoor activities, sometimes accidents unfortunately occur. I urge all Americans who hunt to do what I always do, and did on Saturday -- take every required safety precaution. That is just good common sense."
"Perhaps, in some small way, some good can come of this awful episode. Perhaps all of us who love gun sports will be reminded that accidents can happen even among the most careful, most experienced among us. The most basic rules of gun and hunting safety -- including making sure that the others in your party know your whereabouts at all times -- can never for a second leave our minds."
"I'm going back to work to help our President protect America from the dangerous people who still want to do us harm. And I'm going to go home tonight and hug my adorable grandchildren" (HOLD UP PICTURE.)
"Thank you for reminding me why this is such a great country. I'm proud to serve the President, and proud to serve you."
And then there is (f), what some would call an "alternative" media strategy:
"Good afternoon. I am Lea Anne McBride, Vice President Cheney's spokeswoman." "I hope you will understand that, for reasons of national security, the White House could not release this information earlier and there is much we still can not say now in order to protect operational integrity. On Saturday morning it was discovered via the kind of intercept technology that the Democrats want to do away with that Mr. Harry Whittington had been in contact over the last several months with several high-level al Qaeda operatives operating in Iraq."