It's Not the EKG; It's the Cover-up

Questions, questions, questions.

As you may know by now, we reported here on Friday that Vice President Dick Cheney had visited the cardiac unit at the Vail Valley Medical Center.

After the hospital denied the vice president had been there at all, Cheney’s office put out the story, swallowed whole by the AP, that he had simply gone for a routine visit to orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Richard Steadman.

Indeed, the local paper, the Vail Daily, reported yesterday that "he dropped by to say hi to his favorite knee doctor, Richard Steadman.”

Finally, sources close to Dr. Jack Eck, whom the vice president saw in the cardiac unit, were acknowledging yesterday in Vail that he had been to the cardiac unit (the AP has still not updated its story to include this) but AFTER he had seen Dr. Steadman, and that he had had a prophylactic EKG while he was there.

Wow. So now in the space of 48 hours, we have three stories:

First, denial that Cheney was ever at the hospital.

Second, an acknowledgement that he was at the hospital after all, but only for an old knee injury.

Third, that after he was checked for the knee injury, he was taken to the cardiac unit to have an EKG, but only prophylactically.

So: why all the secrecy? And if this was only a routine knee check-up, why check in under a false name, Dr. Hoffman -- which sources tell us is the name of the vice president’s doctor in Washington.

And if it was a routine knee exam, why not have Dr. Steadman go out to Beaver Creek, where Cheney was staying?

And why is the White House so forthcoming with health details about President Bush, including his cholesterol increasing from 167 to 170 and his body fat percentage increasing from 14.5% to 18.25%, but somehow the nation doesn't have the right to know what exactly the vice president was doing at the Vail hospital?

So many questions...so little leveling with the American people.

And there is a pattern here -- a pattern of obfuscation about Cheney’s health: "Dick Cheney is healthy. He did not have a heart attack," Bush told reporters in November of 2000 when Cheney was hospitalized after suffering a heart attack. And in March 2001 Bush called Cheney’s cardiac catheterization, which his cardiologist termed "urgent" and "significant," a "precautionary measure" (did anyone say “phrophylactic”?).

And in the same month, then-Cheney spokeswoman Mary Matalin assured us that the vice president had checked himself in to the hospital for "a non-emergency precautionary procedure" after experiencing "two brief, mild episodes of chest discomfort" over the weekend. By Tuesday of the following week that had doubled to four episodes of chest pain.

So here is the final question: given this pattern and given all the secrecy and contradictions, why is the media going along with the cover story? My layman's advice to Cheney: we all know that not telling the truth is stressful. That's the point of lie detectors. And stress isn't good on the heart.

Remember, it's not the EKG, it's the cover-up.