In a recent interview with The New Republic, President Obama asserted that he had no intention of taking guns away from hunters, saying he had a "profound respect for the traditions of hunting that trace back in this country for generations." Adding a personal anecdote to presumably strengthen the sincerity of his claim, he said "we do skeet shooting all the time" at Camp David, a hitherto unknown hobby that has drawn no shortage of skepticism, not to mention outright ridicule, from conservatives.
On the conservative Drudge Report, the news was accompanied by an image of Obama running around a pool with a water gun. There was a gleeful rehashing of Obama's athletic blooper reel, including the time he sent a bowling ball thundering into the gutter. Obama was also mocked for shooting clay pigeons, as opposed to animals. Fox News' The Five was a veritable comedy club of zingers: "We all know he's a bull-shooter, but evidently he's also a big skeet shooter"; "What is he actually shooting? Clay pigeons shaped like the Fox News emblem"; "I love how he picked the safest thing. No live animals hurt"; and "He shoots to the left."
Taking the taunts one step further, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, challenged Obama to a skeet-shooting contest. "If he is a skeet shooter, why have we not heard of this? Why have we not seen photos?" Blackburn demanded on CNN. "I think he should invite me to Camp David and I'll go skeet shooting with him and I bet I'll beat him." In the political version of an endzone dance, Blackburn went on to discuss her preference for 20-gauge shotguns over 12-gauge shotguns, a distinction quite possibly lost on the liberal president.
Obama's claim seems to belong to that great tradition of hunting-averse politicians shoring up their Second Amendment credentials with dubious hunting stories. (See: Mitt Romney, "small varmints.") It is odd given the fact that Obama has never bothered to sell his gun-toting bona fides; indeed, his best known statement on guns is the controversial remark that people "cling to guns and religion" during times of economic distress. Press Secretary Jay Carney had no answers for an inquisitive White House press corps. "He does go to Camp David with some regularity," he said, "but I'm not sure how often he's done that."
So should Obama accept Blackburn's challenge? It may not be a bad idea, actually. Obama has been criticized for not inviting more Republicans to Camp David. Perhaps this most cerebral of presidents could surprise his Republican critics with an upset victory, a la Revenge of the Nerds. And at the very least, with the guns safely aimed at clay projectiles, we can be somewhat sure that no one will be sprayed in the face.
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