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April 16, 2007

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Latest News Media Claim: U.S. Presidents Who Hunt Start Wars

I was watching “Real Time with Bill Maher” the other night and was struck by one of his “New Rules” rules. He ranted about Governor Mitt Romney’s pretending to be a hunter, and then said words to the effect that if we had fewer presidents who hunted, we would get in fewer wars, due to the alleged connection between “cruelty” to animals and cruelty to people.

This intrigued me, so I went back and looked at the record, starting with our first modern conflict, the Civil War (I have counted only real wars, not casual bloodlettings like Ronald Reagan’s debacle in Beirut, or Bubba’s excellent adventure in Somalia):

Civil War, entered into by Abraham Lincoln, a non-hunter.

Spanish-American War, entered into by William McKinley, a non-hunter.

World War I, entered into by Woodrow Wilson, a non-hunter.

World War II, entered into by Franklin D. Roosevelt, a non-hunter.

Korean War, entered into by Harry S. Truman, a non-hunter.

Vietnam, entered into by John F. Kennedy, a non-hunter. Presided over by Lyndon Baines Johnson, who shot deer from his convertible and picked up his beagles by their ears. Presided over by Richard M. Nixon, a non-hunter.

Desert Storm, entered into by George Bush, a hunter.

Iraq/Afghanistan, entered into by George W. Bush. I can’t find any real evidence that W. is a hunter; however, one website claimed that, as a boy, he enjoyed stuffing firecrackers in frogs, so I guess that counts for something. One the other hand, Vice President Cheney is a hunter for sure, and may actually be president, so we have to factor that in.

And so, out of eight wars, only three had hunting presidents involved. Out of ten (or 11) presidents, only four had even the most tenuous connection to making the bunnies sweat.

But I like Bill Maher. He is always angry, and sometimes funny, and frequently has interesting guests.


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David Keith

President Bush is indeed a hunter. He hunts birds in Texas.

David Keith

President Bush is indeed a hunter. He hunts birds in Texas.

Dave Petzal

To David Keith: Are you the actor of that name? Also, I believe that although W hunts birds, he doesn't do it very much; not nearly as much as he fishes.

Ralph the Rifleman

Don't forget that a number of these former presidents were excellent marksman, so GUN NUT may actually apply here? Should be start a HUNTING NUT to make sure we do not offend those killing paper targets?

Dave Petzal

To Ralph: I know about Lincoln. Who else?

Chad Love

Oh, yeah, W is a big bird hunter... meadowlarks seem to be his favorite target.

Dave I'm glad there are other hunters/shooters out there who aren't so doctrinaire about the public figures they admire.
Bill Maher (along with the sadly passed Kurt Vonnegut) is a satiric hero of mine although I obviously disagree completely with his position on hunting (as I did with Vonnegut's on guns in general).

"Civil War, entered into by Abraham Lincoln, a non-hunter."

Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner in the "Dumbest Thing Ever Said on the Internet".

Since when did Bill Maher represent all of the media or all of anything? The right wing just loves that feeling of persecution, so much so that they have to manufacture it when there's nothing readily available.

All the things the right-wingers supposedly care about, especially gun rights, are going to be lost as the right-wingers are firmly stuck in delusionland. The right has been wrong about everything for over a decade. The stubborness to change and compromise can only hold out for so long and when change does come, you won't be part of crafting the future; those on the other side will show you the same consideration as was shown to them. You hated the idea of Democratic Party rule yet you've made sure that will be the case for at least the next decade.

"Vietnam, entered into by John F. Kennedy"

At least try to learn some history. Vietnam started under Eisenhower. Kennedy wanted to end our envolvement in Vietnam but was killed before he could do so. We were pulling out our advisors at the time of his assassination. Then Johnson manufactured the Gulf of Tonkin incident and ramped up our commitment.

Peter C

What's the story on Field & Stream giving free ink to the newly-formed Union Sportsman's Alliance, an anti-gun group established to counter the NRA's appeal to union members? Apparently, the Dems are all upset that union members who are also NRA members are voting against anti-gun Democratic candidates who are supported by the union bigwigs. I guess it's a matter of priorities: what's more important, supporting your union and its agendas, or preserving your God-given right to self-defense?


If I wanted political crap, I would visit another blog. Believe me, I live in Illinois and I swim in it everyday.


Instead of vaguely bashing the right-wing with horrible infinitives (a bad thing to do in any arguement). Lets talk about the blog.
It is humorous how many uneducated people probably believed Bill Maher. We need more Dave Petzals in this world. To many people just buy everything the media peddles.

JA Demko

Dave Petzal, for good or ill, is part of the media. He writes for a magazine that is only part of a larger media corporation. Shall we buy what he is peddling?


Yes, Mr. Demko, I shall continue buying what he is peddling.


Your problem is that you watch Bill Maher. He is a jackass.

Chad Love

I don't quite get the whole media bashing thing. If by "peddling" you mean the free and open exchange of ideas, then yes, I'll continue buying. There's a very good reason the press is called the fourth estate. Despite what a shocking number of the American sheeple think, "The Media" is an absolute conrnerstone of democracy, whether it's a blog, a newspaper, magazine, talk radio, whatever. That's why I think it's very easy but very dangerous to retreat into our own little special-interest echo chambers.
That's why I still listen to Bill Maher, still read Kurt Vonnegut and still follow this (among other) blogs. I like contrarian points of view, and just because F&S happens to be owned by a corporation doesn't mean there's an underlying corporate-planned ulterior motive behind everything.
Hell, I read the New Yorker (well, i try anyway. I don't always understand it, I do it mainly to learn big words and look smart) and it's owned by Conde Naste, one of the biggest print media giants out there. I certainly don't feel peddled to by them, just as I don't fell peddled to by this blog.

Chad Love

...and of course Bill Maher is a jackass, but in the confederacy of dunces that is modern American culture you have to do a lot braying to get your point across all the white noise.

Ralph the Rifleman

I read a book about Harry S.(S was just an "S" by the way and was not a name abbreviated)Truman in which he was a farm boy that grew up with firearms but after his tour of duty with WWI did not fancy anything to do with them again...
I do have another question I left on your "guilty" blog in which I wanted to know if you have any concrete facts on the Wal-Mart special gun run order that other bloggers were debating about?
I would think that manufactures would not engage in this type of quality issues if not for the product reputation, at least for safety issues?
Your thoughts Sir Petzal?

Gable Sadovsky

Not only is President Bush a hunter, but when he ran against the late Ann Richards for Gov. of Texas he and Ann made the front page of the San Antonio Express News. President Bush though was cited for shooting a protected species during dove season.


David: This appears to be as good a time & place as any to tell you that your "Letter From Fuddville" in the May issue of F&S was right on the money. Thank you, and it's about time someone articulated it as well as you did. With this latest lunacy in VA yesterday, it's not a question of if, but when they'll start all over again. And if we don't all pull together, we are doomed.


If you like Bill Maher you more than likely admire Rosie. You can kiss my Republican ass and that goes for Field and Stream. I quit reading New York [email protected]# a long time ago

Mike Diehl

How do you know that Lincoln was not a hunter? It's not as though when he was a boy in rural KY or IL there were hunting licenses, with a requisite chain of historical documents that you can look to in order to establish that he wasn't issued a license.

(And of course, Lincoln didn't "start" the War of the Rebellion. That is why in the U.S. Army's official history it's called the "War of the Rebellion.")


Man, Bill Mahar sucks more than anything or anyone that has ever sucked before. He is boring, pompous, and downright stupid. Yes, I will revert to grade school insults on this clown. Bill Mahar, you suck, you stupid poopy head liberal moron. The mere sight of your face and the sound of your voice makes me vomit.

Chad Love

OK, I think we're sort of degenerating here and hijacking the blog but I've got to defend Maher as not nearly as "liberal" as a lot of you knee-jerk guys think. Like any independent-minded person, he's pretty much all over the board and there's no one spot in the idealogue matrix he occupies. In my book that's the mark of a thinking person.


It's amazing how few presidents (according to Mr. Petzal) were considered hunters.

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