A Sporting Proposal for the Presidential Candidates

Obama and Romney

No matter who gets elected President in November, odds are there’s not going to be a real fisherman or hunter in the White House. I base this on the answers each campaign provided to questions from an organization called Keep America Fishing. You can read the responses here, but don’t expect to come away with a warm, fuzzy feeling about our next sportsman-in-chief. At best we’re going to have the functional equivalent of that awkward, out-of-town relative who brings hand sanitizer on the boat and names all the worms.

In all fairness, I doubt that President Obama or Governor Romney even saw these questions. Given the subject matter, I’m sure it was shoved off to some random surrogate to answer, then whisked upstairs to a deputy press secretary for approval. Sadly, though, I think the answers might be more disappointing if the candidates had been left to their own devices.

Neither man strikes me as the type you’d want to be stuck on a boat with for several hours. I suspect their idea of “roughing it” involves playing golf on a public course or walking barefoot across the White House lawn. And I can’t picture either of them elbow deep in a hog carcass.

Still, I do give them credit for a measure of honesty: In the Q&A, neither man actually claims to be a big hunter or fisherman. In fact, the President tells you right up front that he’s never been an avid sportsman, though he says he did fish with his grandfather in Hawaii.

Today, a rodent. Tomorrow, a wedge issue.

Romney’s response is a little harder to interpret, unless you read between the lines. He says he fished with his father and has fished with his son. He says he grew up in Michigan, and that fishing is really popular there. This is a roundabout way of saying, “I’m not really a fisherman, but I’ve been around some folks who seem to like it.”

Lawton Chiles: Still the only Florida Governor to regularly bring a shotgun onto a state airplane.

I’m not sure why I feel this way, but I think I’d be more comfortable with a President who was more comfortable in the woods. Having worked for the late Governor Lawton Chiles, I always knew that the hand he used to sign important legislation was the same one he used to skin deer, scale fish and pull the innards out of a turkey. There’s something reassuring about that.

I realize that Congressman Paul Ryan, the GOP vice presidential nominee, spends a lot of time in the woods, but it’s just not the same as having a leader of the free world who knows a channel cat from a flathead. American badly needs another Teddy Roosevelt, but it’s like we have to choose between two Eleanors.

I want this guy back.

Now, I’m not one to simply complain about a problem without offering a solution, so here’s my offer to both camps: Squirrel season opens in October here in Northwest Florida and I’m willing to take President Obama and/or Governor Romney out hunting. The only rules are that we clean and eat every squirrel we shoot — and the media gets to come along to videotape the whole adventure.

I think it would be instructive for the people of America to see how their favorite candidates handle the experience. Who knows, maybe they’ll enjoy it. Maybe limb rats will find a place on the White House menu. And maybe politicians will start to see the wisdom in staying in closer touch with hunters and fishermen.

On the other hand, they might just find it gruesome, stomach-turning and violent, not fit for polite society. And if that’s the case, at least they’ll know how most people feel about politics.


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