I would just like to say that I have fired a shotgun.
What's more, I used to teach riflery at Camp Tocaloma.
I mention all this because I would desperately like to make my way into the "I've fired a gun and I'm no pussy" sweepstakes that is currently raging among people who are trying to establish their credibility on the matter of Dick Cheney and Harry Whittington. This episode has unleashed an astonishing epidemic of coming-out-of-the-closet among liberals-who-have-fired-guns. I want to put myself squarely among them -- although I must admit I have learned more in the last two days about buckshot and birdshot and the range of a 28-gauge shotgun versus a 12-gauge shotgun than I ever dreamed was possible.
As sometimes happens on those happy days when you have an infinite capacity to read stories on a given subject, I read everything there was to read about the incident in Corpus Christi and watched everything there was to watch. My favorite watching, without question, was yesterday's completely deranged performance of former Senator Alan Simpson, who spent two segments on Hardball explaining quail hunting to America; he left even Chris Matthews a little flummoxed. And I highly recommend Paul Begala on this subject. Begala, it turns out, was born holding a gun, and he takes a strong position on whether anyone should be chasing two coveys at once.
Begala also takes a shot at Mary Matalin, who defended her former boss Cheney in the Washington Post. "I love Mary," Begala writes. "She's married to my best friend. But she was 1500 miles away, drinking a fine Rhone, no doubt. And I daresay she's never been hunting in her life." I don't want to defend Mary Matalin against anyone, but it seems to me she's as qualified to discuss this subject as all of the rest of us who have no idea what really happened. (I mean, what did happen? And why did Katharine Armstrong call the Corpus Christi newspaper? Obviously the story was about to leak. Obviously we have a little bitty Chappaquiddick here. Don't we?)
One last thing: No one is interested in listening to liberals -- or anyone else -- talk about hunting. Stories about hunting -- and of course about fly fishing -- always remind me of what happens just before Thanksgiving, when you find yourself stuck in conversation with someone who's under a compulsion to tell you what he or she is stuffing the turkey with; you don't really care, but you sit there and listen in order for it to be your turn to tell what you're stuffing your own turkey with.
Stories about hunting are boring.
I'm entitled to say this. Because I have fired a shotgun.