Cheney invite creates stir
MANCHESTER — Reports that former Vice President Dick Cheney was to be the guest of honor and speaker at the American Museum of Fly Fishing's annual dinner at the New York Angler's Club on March 5 have caused a stir within the fly fishing community.
According to an article in the Rutland Herald last week, the museum is now reconsidering the decision.
Executive Director of the American Museum of Fly Fishing, Catherine Comar, said the museum would not comment on whether Cheney would be the guest of honor and speaker at the dinner, nor would she confirm or deny rumors that the invitation or event may be postponed until the fall.
However, according to a letter apparently written by Comar from the American Museum of Fly Fishing that was posted on the High County News Web site www.hcn.org/wotr/on-second-thought-mr.-cheney by Ted Williams — the conservation editor for Fly Rod & Reel magazine who broke the story on a blog he writes for that publication — Cheney was invited and accepted the invitation to the dinner.
The letter from Comar states that the museum possesses fly fishing equipment used by former political figures such as Jimmy Carter, Dwight Eisenhower, and Franklin D. Roosevelt among others — the administrations of whom all encountered controversy.
The letter goes on to state "Vice President Dick Cheney is a significant historical figure in this country and the world and an avid, lifelong fly fisherman. The Museum is a nonpolitical instituition that seeks to enhance its collections and richly preserve fly fishing artifacts, including those used by major figures in our own country's history, as we have done for decades. We hope that this letter assists in expressing our reasons for honoring the Vice President and accepting his fly fishing artifacts into the Museum as a part of its permanent collection."
According to Williams, he first learned of the news on Dec. 31, 2008.
"A person connected with the museum was outraged. The person didn't come to me ... I was talking with him and he mentioned it," Williams said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. "It was unbelievable the reaction. The outrage. To honor him at a dinner just to sell some seats ... the fly fishing community is appalled and outraged."
Since Williams report, numerous negative reactions have been expressed by members of the fly fishing community across the Internet.
Among those expressing concern was former Vermont Fish and Wildlife commissioner, Steve Wright.
"I was disappointed with that [decision]," said Wright, who served as Vermont's Fish and Wildlife Commissioner from 1985 to 1989. "The heritage the museum advances and tries to promote exists because of healthy aquatic resources and Vice President Cheney throughout his eight years as Vice President advanced policies that were damaging to those resources."
The dinner is scheduled to take place on Thursday, March 5 beginning at 5 p.m., according to the museum's Web site www.amff.com. Tickets are $175, and no mention is made of Cheney's appearance on the Web site.
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