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Ground Shots and Chickenhawks

None Dare Call It Hunting!..........well, except the GOP

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, February 15, 2006.

The story in my former in-law’s family was that the patriarch was a ground shot. This was only discussed on other continents, and even then in hushed tones. By this they meant when he hunted, rather than waiting for the bird to be flushed and fly, he’d shoot it on the ground. But, at least he’d carry it home, fix and eat it and he didn’t whine, drink, or interfere with the enjoyment of others, who would fire away at all levels of trajectories in all sorts of never clarified inebriated states. He was in his late seventies, so he was mostly forgiven, especially when he was the only one who brought home game birds to eat.

But because he shot very low, it scared others that he could hit a dog or someone else as yet unseen across the field or in the nearby hedge. On the other hand, he didn’t fire without his desired target in his sights. Other and excited hunters trying to impress an important host pivoting and following too slow the covey’s flight and unloading every shell available without a feather loosened in a single bird was actually a more terrifying memory.

At least this was actual hunting. Back in the Pleistocene of the 1950’s up through the 70’s, when I met him, he would still sometimes report he and his dogs and friends hadn’t seen a damned bird all day from dawn to whenever, for which he would blame other hunters, the overweight morons in bright colors who’d fire away at fowl just slightly below TelStar’s orbit and keep any bird with, well, a bird brain grounded and unseen. Mostly... safe. This was still impressive, a man his age marching around the hinterlands well beyond roads and relief. It was like, well, hunting, which has that ‘search’ component, somehow. Not just the shooting and killing.

That search component is important. Because as numerous bloggers pointed out, this weekend, our Vice President wasn’t hunting. He was shooting quail raised and fed by humans off a road on a private game preserve. He was exhibiting sportsmanship and skill at the same level of European Royalty back in the day. Hundreds of beaters and sufficient backup for an assault on the Kremlin allowed various princes and those that loved them to be handed a loaded rifle while atop a pachyderm or inside a Union Pacific private car and heroically shoot a huge tiger, or lion, or American bison. The game tallies that were initially bragged about to the newspapers became shameful. It was disgusting, it wasn’t hunting, they couldn’t begin to eat their kills and it was all wasted. They shot the best and biggest and turned them over to the taxidermist after an embarrassing photo.

Dick Cheney has had four times the heart incidents that his prey, Harry Whittington, has had, care of the Vice President and the tiny, almost dustlike bird shot FoxNews lovingly described as having been received from Cheney’s shotgun. So it really isn’t fair to dump on a guy who really cannot hunt anymore for reasons of time and infarction, and that he goes where he can shoot and obtain some enjoyment reliving the past is not for us to condemn. But it isn’t hunting. It’s shooting and killing mullet in a beer keg, and it annoys me to hear it called something it palpably is not.

It offends me I am expected to accept and believe it, but it disturbs me that the administration and FoxNews may actually accept and believe it. Words and phrases are important, of course. We fight a war against anti-occident Islam, but the Bushies call it a War on Terror, which is about as accurate and meaningful as calling it a War on Badness. In any case, it has affected my life and the vast majority of Americans’ lives not an iota, neither in taxes to pay for it or minimal sacrifice to make it go well, much like the War on Drugs, which is something else entirely, now compiled in the equally misnamed Patriot Act.

Something else. Mr. Whittington had a fairly close spread of shot in his face, neck, and chest. He supposedly was 90 feet away. Huh. Assuming this liberal Texas Republican is about six feet tall, a safe bet, envision the angle of Cheney’s shotgun when he fired at that which he could not see.

No doubt, when the Vice President is interviewed by GOP lapdog Britt Hume on Fox tonight, this puzzling and unimpressive aficionado of firearms, a man with five military draft deferments who questioned whether John Kerry’s devotion to big booms was as devout as his own, part of an administration that praises responsibility and demonstrates almost none, will explain himself. And it is important, and more than an accident involving two Republicans. And here’s the easy way to prove that.

Imagine if Al Gore as VP had shot a hunting companion, avoided the press, made no announcement for a day, and then only from a civilian calling the local paper. Imagine Gore saying it was the victim’s fault, again through a third party like James Carville. I suppose it isn’t surprising the ranking chicken hawk is a ground shot as well.