The May 29 New Yorker has an enjoyable article, “Central Casting” (by Jeffrey Goldberg) that looks at the conflicting strategies that Democrats are looking to employ in the 2008 presidential elections. Governor Mark Warner makes an appearance in the piece, with two-thirds of a page of coverage. He comes across quite well, though one bit was cringe-worthy: when he visited the Springfield Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, promoted as the world’s largest hunting/fishing store.
There Warner submitted to one of the most reliable humiliations of Democratic politics: the firing range. Though his spokeswoman described him as “more of a rock climber than a hunter,” Warner, entourage in tow, found himself facing a paper target eight yards in front of him.
“Eight yards?” a local reporter asked. “That’s not a lot of distance.”
The Bass Pro Shops guide gave Warner a petite .22 to fire. “You generally want to start out with something small,” he explained. Warner managed to put holes through the target, although he missed the bull’s-eye.
It is perhaps a measure of the distance (physical and cultural) between here and Northern Virginia that I had to pause for fully ten seconds after reading that to wonder: How can a full-grown Virginian never have fired a rifle? I just assumed that anybody as rich as Roosevelt would naturally have a nice collection of rifles.
To be fair, it’s not directly stated in the article that he’d never shot before. But a presidential candidate, with press present, firing a .22 from 24 feet away? I hope this was a first. Y’all at the Warner camp need to get your man trained. You can bring him out to my folks’ place. There’s a little range, we’ve got nearly a dozen rifles, and we try to keep things on hand that are fun to shoot. We’ll have him grouping like a champ in no time.
7:15pm Update: Warner’s spokeswoman Ellen Qualls points out that he was firing a handgun, not a rifle. That’s a world of a difference, at least in my mind.