Tuesday, September 27, 2016

'Hunters can sense the inauthenticity'

Apparently there went out a degree from Caesar Augustus again: Show us who's the real American here! Bottom of the front page would be good.

From George Washington’s flintlock pistols to John F. Kennedy’s M1 rifle, presidents have shared a long tradition of proud gun ownership.

That heritage would be far more likely to continue under a President Donald Trump than it would under a President Hillary Clinton.


As is so often the case, the point is clearer in the online hed (and the URL):

How does he aim to do that?

Mr. Trump, the Republican nominee, has a concealed carry permit in New York, owns at least two handguns and professes a “tremendous passion” for hunting with his sons. He laments that his schedule rarely affords him time to hunt.

In an interview with The Washington Times in 2012, Mr. Trump said he owns a Hechler & Koch .45 pistol and a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson.

“I own a couple of different guns, but I don’t talk about it,” he said at the time.


In the good old days, kids, there were people called "copy editors," whose job it was to point out that -- especially if you're going to pick on the libruls for how little they know about GUNZ -- you should look up stuff like the spelling of Heckler & Koch. That points to a larger concern with this story, but first I have to break ranks and tell a newsroom joke:

Q: How do you hide a $20 bill from a reporter?
A: Put it in the "weapons" section of the stylebook.

Hence the mild skepticism with which you might greet the WashTimes's claim about what "hunters" think:
Broadly, that's true -- especially when a top-drawer political writer demonstrates his authenticity by expecting his audience to believe in the ".12-gauge shotgun."

In a way, that's trivia, except that it's trivia with a purpose. The Times isn't technically lying to you. It's telling you a bedtime story: Donald Trump is your guy, if you want to carry on the manly tradition of presidents who own guns. And the evidence is that he has, you know, a couple of guns. Or not, depending on how you read his January interview with Field & Stream:

DT: I do have a gun, and I have a concealed-carry permit, actually, which is a very hard thing to get in New York. And, of course, the problem is once you get to the border line of New Jersey or anyplace else, you can’t do it, which is ridiculous, because I’m a very big Second Amendment person. But I do have a gun, and my sons are major hunters, and I’m a member of the NRA.  

So at this point, we can't even ask him to spell H&K, because we might as well be asking him to spell S&W instead, since he seems to have only the one gun. But it does seem to be the story from which the Times's "tremendous passion" arises:

AL: Do you hunt with your sons? How did they get into the sports?

DT: Well, they got in and just loved it. And their grandfather was a hunter, and he would take them hunting as young boys, and they just loved it. They have a tremendous passion for it. And I don’t devote very much time to it because I’m so busy with everything, but Eric and Don absolutely love it, and they’re expert at it. They’re expert shots, and they’re expert at it.


So the likelihood that he will carry on this proud presidential tradition comes down to the probability that he might have a gun or two, depending on what you believe from his assorted interviews. You don't have to be a hunter to "sense the inauthenticity" in that. Though if you're a reporter for the Washington Times, it's hard to see how you sense anything.

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