Sunday, March 27, 2011

Why should we care where Sarah Palin got her bunny (and how many shots it took)?

The designated Badass Quote of the Day for today over on Dispatches is from Jason Easley at Politics USA:
Sarah Palin has become the political equivalent of Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. America regrets the one night stand they had with Palin, but now she has broken into our house and is ready to boil our bunny. Sarah Palin is America’s ultimate political stalker. It all makes you wonder where Michael Douglas is when we need him most.
Which is indeed a great quote, although I'd distance myself by saying that she's more like the stalker with whom my housemate had a one night stand-- I had nothing to do with it, thanks very much, and would have evicted that housemate long ago for entirely different reasons if such a thing were possible.

But the following exchange in the comments caught my interest:
Sarah Palin does not boil bunnys.She shoots them with high powered rifles with sniper scopes.
you forgot "from helicopters". And that it takes her an average of 7 shots to hit them. 
We're probably all familiar with the "hunting from helicopters" bit. But where does the "7 shots" thing come from?  Well, this-- an opinion piece in USA Today describing Sarah Palin's Alaska on TLC:
The caribou hunt episode provides a centerpiece of the series' excesses, as well as Palin's ineptitude. According to script, it's Palin's turn to replenish the family's dwindling freezer with wild meat — from an Alaska point of view, all good. But the logistics of the trip defy common sense. Instead of hunting within reasonable distance of home, her party flies 600-plus miles to a remote camp in multiple chartered aircraft. This isn't subsistence but the sort of experiential safari popular among high-end, non-resident sport hunters. For all that, Palin ends up with a skinny juvenile cow caribou. Boned out, we're talking maybe 100 pounds of meat, at a staggering cost per pound
Faced with that hapless animal, this darling of Second Amendment supporters nervously asks her dad whether the small-caliber rifle kicks. Then, even more astoundingly, her father repeatedly works the bolt and loads for her as she misses shot after shot before scoring a kill on the seventh round — enough bullets for a decent hunter to take down at least five animals. (Given Palin's infamous tweet "Don't retreat, reload," we can infer she plans to keep her dad close by.) Later, Palin blames the scope, but any marksman would recognize the flinching, the unsteady aim and poor shot selection — and the glaring ethical fault of both shooter and gun owner if the rifle wasn't properly sighted. Instead of some frontier passion play, we're rendered a dark comedy of errors.
Why should we give a damn about whether Sarah Palin can hunt, and whether she does so efficiently?  Is making fun of that just a cheap shot (pardon the pun)?  After all, how many of us could go out and easily kill something to feed our family for dinner?

Probably not many, but that's really beside the point. The point is populism, or what should be a failure thereof.  It's perfectly okay with me if Sarah Palin is a lousy hunter. What's not okay is that hunting (presumably well, presumably for a purpose aside from show) is part of the persona she has adopted in order to appeal to a certain demographic, and it seems pretty clear that the persona is contrived. This led to a rather fascinating discussion amongst Ed's readers, some of whom live in Michigan or other northern states in which hunting is a way of life, about what exactly being a good hunter means. Apparently it means being responsible and trying to minimize suffering. It means not taking a shot unless you are pretty sure it's the only shot you're going to need to take. It means you know your weapon intimately and can operate it safely and effectively by yourself. Pretty much common sense, right?  Even a non-hunter should be able to guess those rules, and expect that anyone who claims to be an active hunter would abide by them.

Not Ted Nugent:

To be fair, it's possible that Nugent just didn't know that Palin's hunting abilities are a fa├žade.  He probably just heard all of the rhetoric on the subject and thought "Hey, one of my kind!" I know that Nugent himself is perceived by many as a whackjob and that reputation is not undeserved, but:
  • A lot of people do like and listen to him, and
  • When he talks about hunting and sustainability, I can't help but half-nod in agreement.
He's wrong, of course, that hunting is sustainable. America simply could not feed itself on the same diet we're accustomed to now if the meat we ate came from hunting alone. We could not eat meat to the same degree that actual hunters do now if we all had to get our meat only from hunting-- there just aren't enough wild animals out there. If we all turned into Ted Nugent tomorrow, we would almost certainly hunt the prominent game animals into extinction. There are just too many of us. That doesn't mean there is anything wrong with being a hunter, but for that reason alone it's misguided to suggest that we all should become hunters even if we were so inclined (which is a tremendous "if").

What's unfortunate is not just that Nugent doesn't appear to realize that, but that he thinks that just because Palin is gung-ho about hunting (whether she can actually do it or not), she's on board with his sustainability thing. That she gives a damn about preserving God's earth, the balance between man and nature, and the general glamorized picture of hunting that Nugent appears to genuinely believe in.  Which means that Nugent, in addition to being a nutter, is a sucker. I feel kind of sorry for the guy-- Sarah Palin really isn't good enough for him, as much as he wants to believe she is. 

Standards, gun-toting God-praising need 'em.  

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