Cheney’s trick knee … |

Cheney’s trick knee …

Don Rogers

Officially, it sounded all so Kobe Bryant this afternoon and evening. No one by that name has been admitted. Not a lie, and not the truth. More proof you can’t go with what officials tell you.

Vice President Dick Cheney, on his annual visit to Beaver Creek for the World Forum, that annual gathering of conservatives and the now somewhat humbled neo-conservative cabal, went fishing on the Eagle River today, as he often does. His guides can’t talk while he’s around, or say much about their time with him. But the others can, and sometimes do. Always nice to catch up with the human side of the fella who rules the world or somesuch from a basement god knows where. He’s a good fisherman, too, we’re told.

Then he went to the hospital in the afternoon. Now that sounds alarming all by itself, given his famously vulnerable heart. But possibly the best orthopedic surgeons in the world ” sure, I’m a homer, but I could be right, actually ” have their clinic on the second floor. I know because I’ve been there. Kobe Bryant’s clinic fixed my knee while he endured his first long day in an Eagle County courtroom.

The stories from folks who work at the hospital were all about Cheney visiting Dr. Richard Steadman. One said she was told it was a social visit. Others said the vice president was there to have his knee looked at, after Steadman finished his day’s round of surgeries. The timing fit the doc’s schedule.

We were told of the Secret Service fellows doing their thing, clearing everyone out ahead of the vice president. But things got back to normal pretty quick outside the clinic’s doors. Agents guarded the doors to the clinic. But downstairs in the lobby, other agents appeared to be paying more attention to “Sports Center” than the pedestrian traffic, and the fellows with the vehicles chatted with hotel security and just a little with passers-by.

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Some of the party talk at the Vail Valley Institute, which included Arianna Huffington, David Brooks and other luminaries attending a three-day seminar, touched on what Cheney was really doing at the hospital.

It’s hard for me to separate the speculation from the observations reported second-hand to me. But somone basically said they knew someone who told them they understood that the knee thing was a ruse. Dick felt some heart discomfort and they all made up a story about his knee. He passed through the orthopedic clinic and visited other docs and had his heart looked at, this story goes.

Everyone I called laughed at me, frankly. But it’s not implausible at all. We haven’t been able to confirm anything like that happening, and grrrr, it’s that damn sort of rumor that’s impossible to disprove, either. Or at least not easy. The doc Cheney supposedly saw didn’t answer his home phone tonight, and I know he wouldn’t tell me anything if he did. All I could do is try to read his voice while he told me he could neither confirm nor deny, etc.

Arianna wrote in her blog that she was told Cheney went to a cardiac unit “adjacent” to the orthopedic clinic. Well, I’m pretty sure there is not any cardiac unit next door to Steadman Hawkins. But it’s a small mountain town hospital. Upstairs ain’t far away, either.

She also tells of a nurse, intimidated by a security guy doing his thing, calling her husband and declaring something big is happening.

In any case, Cheney left at 5:30 p.m., about right for his knee exam. He never checked in the hospital, and I believe he’s still in town.

The story sounds overly elaborate to me, even for a tricky Dicky. Easy enough to make a quick appointment and just go see the doc you mean to see. If you really want to do it hush hush, well, drop the road-clearing and hospital hall clearing nonsense. Set an appointment, and come in a side door. The celebs do it all the time.

But yes, the nation is concerned and interested in Dick Cheney’s heart, which makes it news when someone hears that No. 2 is going to the hospital, sirens wailing, lights flashing and all that.

But that’s how he goes everywhere in Eagle County. I’ve been stuck in the traffic that gets stopped for the big guy’s passage. It’s always a big show, half entertaining and half just irritating. What on earth is the big deal up here. They would do fine just driving through like normal folk.

So while this very well could be a trick knee story, at this moment I suspect the worst for staying at work all damn night fishing for information: It’s an old football injury, and the best knee doc in the land had a look.

We’re not exactly known as the center of cardiology, and you don’t go see a local doctor of internal medicine if you are the second in command of the free world and your heart is bothering you. There are a few other names in your Rolodex you can reach about as quickly.

But anyway, you can check out Adrianna’s take on all this in her blog, which you can find at

Here’s her posting:

Is Cheney Alright?

I just landed at Vail airport, right next to the Vice President’s Gulfstream jet (actually, there were two Vice Presidential planes, not one… how much of an entourage does one VP need?). He’s here to speak at the World Forum at Beaver Creek, sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, and held, of course, behind closed doors. The guy sent to pick me up by the Vail Valley Institute (where I’m speaking) told me that he had seen the VP’s motorcade speed towards the local hospital. Being an intrepid HuffPost reporter, I asked him to take me straight there. Upon our arrival, we encountered a high level of security — and a lot of zipped lips: “We cannot tell you anything,” “No comment,” “That information is not available…” But one hospital staffer, obviously not schooled in the secretive ways of Cheney, let it slip: “He’s no longer here”. And since you cannot “no longer” be someplace you’ve never been, we can deduce — though not confirm — that Cheney did, in fact, pay a visit to the local hospital. The reason? Over to you AP…

UPDATE: Cheney’s Health: What is the White House Hiding?

VAIL — Why is the White House still insisting that the only health issue Vice President Cheney dealt with today is an old football injury to his knee, visiting renowned orthopedist Dr. Richard Steadman? At the Vail Valley Institute dinner tonight, I kept asking what those in the know here knew. Little by little, here is the story I pieced together: After the Secret Service secured the Vail Valley Medical Center, including the parking lot, the Vice President arrived under his own power and checked in at the orthopedic center under the name “Dr. Hoffman”. He was immediately whisked to the adjacent cardiac unit, suffering from what was described to me as “an angina attack”. The security was so high that a Secret Service agent wouldn’t let an ER nurse out of the bathroom that she had gone into just before the Veep arrived. “Get back in there,” the agent told her. Confounded, she called her husband on her cell phone, telling him “something big” was going on. And indeed it was… but you wouldn’t know it from the White House. It appears that not only doesn’t the public deserve to know what is really going on in Iraq (“last throes”?) we don’t deserve to know what is going on with our Vice President’s health.

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