Can a presidential candidate achieve sufficient “guydom”–or in the case of Hillary Rodham Clinton, “gal-dom”–without being a gun lover or a hunter?
Hunters, who are 96 percent white and 90 percent male, only constitute four percent of the nation. Yet despite their dwindling numbers (which have dropped 26 percent in the last two decades and 37 percent among the young) they hold disproportionate sway over lawmakers, like the NRA.
One reason is dollars: hunters buy licenses that pay the salaries of state wildlife officials who then create hunting opportunities so they can sell hunters licenses. This environmental cronyism is in open defiance of the Public Trust Doctrine which provides that the land be held for the benefit of the entire public, not just the hunters.
Nonetheless, many politicians cater to the gun lover/hunter demographic which is vocal and belligerent though small. Both former president Bill Clinton and John Kerry when he was a Massachusetts senator staged self-conscious duck hunting trip outings to display their “guydom” and during the 2008 presidential campaign President Obama termed Hillary Rodham Clinton “Annie Oakley” for her ingratiation to the gun lobby. (Of course, after Obama was elected, she became Secretary Annie Oakley.) Still, Obama had his own bout with ingratiation when he allowed a photo op of him skeet shooting in 2013.
In 2007, the gun lobby ridiculed presidential candidate Mitt Romney for calling himself a lifelong hunter on the basis of a few hunting trips in which he shot small animals. Perhaps cognizant of such a backlash, former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, also a candidate in 2007, decided to kill an oryx a long-horned, African antelope on Ted Turner’s Armendaris Ranch in New Mexico.
Hunters pay Turner thousands of dollars to kill bison, deer, African antelopes and turkeys on his land according to a November 2007 article in National Geographic called “Hunters: For Love of the Land?” Turner also franchises buffalo meat at his food chain Ted’s Montana Grill. “As a business leader, philanthropist, environmentalist and avid outdoorsman, Ted Turner…wanted to celebrate an American icon: The bison who once thundered across the Great Plains,” by creating “the biggest bison menu in the world” says the web site.
Richardson killed his oryx with one shot from 100 yards on a “guided” outing, a fence clearly visible in the background. Photos show Richardson kneeling beside the beast, its muzzle sunk into the sand like former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s famous pose beside a caribou bleeding from its mouth with her daughter in tow (pictured).
And who can forget former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee hunting “op” for the benefit of the press when he was a presidential candidate? Huckabee scheduled his pheasant hunt in rural Iowa the day after Christmas, traditionally a slow news day. Wearing a EAT, SLEEP, HUNT cap he intoned the usual catechism about killing actually being stewardship (see: destroying a village to save it). “It’s the hunters who actually keep the wildlife alive,” he said.
But, even though the press dutifully trailed Huckabee into wingshooting country–“underdressed,” according to one reporter, he got no bounce out of the event. Maybe it was the rumors swirling, at the same time, about his son David who allegedly hung a dog while a counselor at the Boy Scout’s Camp Pioneer in Hatfield, AK.
Or maybe the failure of the op was the way Huckabee, a Baptist preacher, joked about the bird he killed with his 12-gauge having his opponent’s name written on its rear ends. “See, that’s what happens if you get in my way,” he chortled to the press. “Each of these three birds made a sacrifice for the campaign.” How could a pastor find death—even an animal’s– funny, the press seemed to ponder. Did such an household attitude lead to the alleged dog abuse?
Much of the 2008 campaign pivoted on wooing gun owners. Huckabee, Sen. John McCain and Fred Thompson were a leg up over Rudy Giuliani, who was on the wrong side of gun control as mayor of New York City. But then McCain found himself in the doghouse with the gun lobby for supporting laws to close the gun show loophole which provided murder weapons for Columbine and other mass shootings. The NRA’s Wayne LaPierre accused the Arizona senator of thinking gun owners had “too much freedom.”
This month’s murder of nine worshippers in Charleston has highlighted the strong links between the gun rights movement, hate groups and so called “white genocide” groups. Yet few and possibly none of the presidential candidates are willing to address the easy access to guns behind such frequent mass shootings. Are they afraid of losing their “guydom?”
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.