Just seven weeks after a massacre at an American elementary school, the White House released a photo of the president firing a gun. Strangely, no one seems to think this is in atrocious taste. We imagine the reaction would be quite different if it were, say, George W. Bush.Yeah! Can you imagine!
The photo, purportedly shot last Aug. 4 (which happens to be the president's birthday), shows Obama holding a shotgun. The barrel is smoking, indicating that the gun has just been fired. What's odd about it is that the president is aiming straight ahead, as if he were firing a rifle at a stationary target.But in skeet shooting, the target, a disk known as a clay pigeon, is moving. It is launched from one of two "houses" and travels in a parabolic trajectory across the field. In order to hit it, one has to move the gun so as to follow the path of the clay. It's not impossible that one would fire at shoulder level, as Obama is doing in the photo, but it's unlikely. We therefore surmise that the picture is the product of a photo shoot, not a skeet shoot.Expressions of dubiety about the photo have prompted some weirdly intense reactions from Obama partisans. Our old pal John Avlon lashes out at "Republican conspiracy nuts" who are "partakers of the paranoid style in American politics" and have succumbed to "the unhinged, hate-fueled impulse" toward "disrespect and near-dehumanization of this president."Dehumanization? The suspicion here is that when he claimed to be a skeet shooter, Obama was talking to Buncombe--that is, speaking insincerely for political purposes. Has Avlon had so little contact with Homo sapiens that he fails to recognize that is an all too human thing to do? Is he too naive to know it is a behavior characteristic of politicians?