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Friday, December 8, 2023

Uh, Sarah, about that moose hunting…

Since John McCain announced his wild and crazy choice of Sarah Palin to be his running mate in the presidential election, wild and crazy stuff has been coming out about her.

I am not going to do the Democrats' work by repeating it all here, but Americans shouldn't go thinking that John McCain's staff didn't thoroughly vet her beforehand.


Since John McCain announced his wild and crazy choice of Sarah Palin to be his running mate in the presidential election, wild and crazy stuff has been coming out about her.

I am not going to do the Democrats’ work by repeating it all here, but Americans shouldn’t go thinking that John McCain’s staff didn’t thoroughly vet her beforehand.

Are you kidding? Her selection was vetted with the same care and attention to detail that the Bush administration took in making the case to invade Iraq.

But I do have some concerns about Palin’s fitness to hold high office. Mostly, I am worried about her penchant for moose hunting.

I know moose hunting is popular in Alaska and far be it for me to criticize the folkways of other states. After all, here in Pittsburgh we go to the ballpark and watch pierogies race and oftentimes they provide more excitement than the Pirates’ version of baseball.

But at least we have the good grace not to shoot any pierogies on the theory that it is not sporting to shoot large lumps of fried stuffed dough. That theory should also apply to moose, which are nothing if not large lumps.

It would seem to me that, in terms of skill, shooting a large animal like a moose is about as difficult as hitting the side of a barn or taking potshots at a drive-in movie screen. Where is the challenge? And what has any moose done to offend Mrs. Palin or anyone else?

Moose are known to move ploddingly about the bush, stopping every so often to graze like large government workers at the staff cafeteria. I don’t doubt they can get ornery, especially if you call them homely, but all large, dim-witted animals can be dangerous — for example, Rush Limbaugh.

But I don’t think this is any excuse to open fire. While I don’t mind people hunting ducks or deer, I am for being kind to oversized animals that look like old carpet racks moving through the forest with expressions like Gomer Pyle.

Frankly, I fear for America’s prestige in the world when mooseburgers are added to the White House menu at the vice president’s behest. Previously, the worst that happened was that visiting dignitaries would be tortured if they didn’t eat their vegetables.

Worse yet, what if the playgrounds of America are soon filled with children called Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper and Trig — thanks to Sarah Palin’s example?

And what if the mothers who pick them up from school have their hair done up in retro buns last seen when Priscilla was dating Elvis? Those will be the days when mooseburgers linger bitter in our mouths.

Fortunately, the presumptuous vice president has family values. In fact, with her sort of far-right values, she could be Genghis Khan’s sister.

Still, by picking Sarah Palin as his running mate, John McCain has liberated all of us from the tyranny of experience. He has picked someone who is not just inexperienced but spectacularly so, a privilege reserved for the good-looking.

But experience is so yesterday. In a more stuffy era, singers trained their voices for years in the conservatory; today they just pick up a guitar and get on with it. Stockbrokers, who needs them when babies can trade stocks online? Even journalists, who once spent years learning to drink and stay awake in council meetings, are now supplanted in the public affection by bloggers who don’t know how to look rumpled.

Sure, experience still counts in some areas: Self-taught brain surgeons and proctologists are to be avoided, as is getting on a plane serviced by mechanics who took an online course. But in politics, a form of mass entertainment, experience is not required in our modern era. This is called progress.

Of course, before this announcement, the conservative talking point was that Barack Obama was not experienced enough for the White House. While some have desperately recalibrated the argument, now saying for the first time that executive experience is what is needed, that won’t fly either. Ms. Palin doesn’t have much of that, either.

The experience argument as used against Sen. Obama was always just a convenient way of saying: "Go away. Come back when you are experienced, by which time we will have another excuse and you will be too old to be exciting." Now his critics are reduced to not liking him because he doesn’t shoot moose. This may not be progress but it is some wild and crazy fun.

Reg Henry is a columnist with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. E-mail him at rhenry(at)