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Aiming to please
The other evening I went to a dinner party at which quail was served in an attempt to be topical. This, of course, was a reference to Dick Cheney's recent mishap. I was rather glad that Bill Clinton's mishap was not making headlines, otherwise our fare might have been less agreeable, as at this members only restaurant here.
Harry Whittington, pictured below, is "pockmarked and bruised", but it looks as if he will pull through.
He delivered a short statement, in which he showed that he has no hard feelings:
"We all assume certain risks in what we do, in what activities we pursue," he said. "Accidents do and will happen. This past weekend encompassed all of us in a cloud of misfortune and sadness that is not easy to explain especially for those who are not familiar with the great sport of quail hunting."
All's well that ends well, then. I was interested to read in The Times that this is not the first time that a Vice President has shot a man while in office:
That honour falls to Aaron Burr, Vice-President of the United States between 1801 and 1805. Rather than settle for inadvertently peppering a friendly Republican donor, Burr went the whole hog and shot dead the first Secretary of the US Treasury.
It is fair to state that the victim, Alexander Hamilton, had been getting on Burr’s nerves for some time. Their enmity dated from Burr’s defeat of Hamilton’s father-in-law for a senate seat in 1791. It was exacerbated by the 1800 presidential contest, which had produced a tie between Thomas Jefferson and Burr in the electoral college. Hamilton intrigued to ensure that Jefferson got the top job during the ensuing prolonged period of horsetrading.
Burr was a man of intense ambition and unquenchable libido. Hamilton suspected he was a Catiline, ready to sell out the Republic for his own ends. When Hamilton refused to apologise for making derogatory remarks about the Vice-President, Burr challenged the man who had established America’s first national bank to a duel.
Disregarding the illegality of duelling in New Jersey, the two men were rowed out in separate boats across the Hudson on the early morning of July 11, 1804, meeting for their “interview” on the Plains of Weehawken. Hamilton fired first, deliberately aiming wide. Burr replied shattering Hamilton’s rib cage. The former Secretary to the Treasury died the following day, in agony.
How unlike the home life of our own dear Prime Minister, UK readers might think. Well, what about John Prescott, our Deputy Prime Minister, who famously punched a heckler? Is there something about being second in command that makes people dangerous?