April 16, 2007
Latest News Media Claim: U.S. Presidents Who Hunt Start Wars
By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily
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.