Sabatos Crystal Ball

Cheney’s Quail-Gate makes ‘Feeding Frenzy Hall of Fame’

Larry J. Sabato, Director, U.Va. Center for Politics February 22nd, 2006


Now that the hub-hub about Dick Cheney’s shooting accident has died down, the Crystal Ball can add a bit of perspective. Quail-Gate was a classic media feeding frenzy, and your author wrote the book on the phenomenon entitled, well, Feeding Frenzy.

Amazingly little has changed since the first edition was published in 1991. In the Kabuki Theater of American politics, everyone plays a well practiced role:

Unlike the mega-frenzies (Watergate, Iran-Contra, Clinton’s impeachment), Dick Cheney’s Quail-Gate has no earth-shattering revelations that redefine the political landscape. And since Cheney is definitely not running for President in 2008, there is no campaign damage to repair, as there has been for many dozens of other national candidates in recent decades. Still, the jokes survive–and despite the laughs, a sour taste lingers all around. No one looks good. Most of the players will want to put this episode to bed quickly. That has often been true in the sordid history of the feeding frenzy.

One tiny footnote: My book’s first title, before the publisher and I settled on Feeding Frenzy, was Open Season. Little did we know how appropriate that alternate label would one day be!