Mitt Romney
(April 2007)

Some readers feel that the Scoreboard makes too much out of trivial lies by aspiring politicians. They are mistaken. A politician who is willing to lie recklessly about minor matters is unlikely to hesitate when a lie would be useful in dealing with a major problem. Thus Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's dishonest claims about his status as "a hunter" are as troubling as they were stupid…and they were very stupid.

In case you missed it (by foolishly paying no attention to the rapidly heating presidential campaign simply because the election is more than a year away and there are, oh, maybe a thousand more urgent matters to attend to, like when are we going to rid ourselves of Sanjaya?), Romney told supporters that he had "been pretty much a hunter all his life." This was tres dumb, because 1) it was a claim that could easily be checked, and 2) it was fiction. The Associated Press quickly determined that the former Massachusetts governor had been hunting only twice "all his life": once when he was 15 and visiting a relative's Idaho ranch, and once last year, shooting quail in a fenced-in game preserve in Georgia with major donors to the Republican Governors Association.

In other words, Natty Bumppo* he's not.

Caught red-tongued in this fib, Romney proceeded to emulate the master, Bill Clinton. "Oh, that kind of hunting!" was Romney's approach, as he "explained" that his hunting didn't typically include big game. Or even medium-sized game. "I've always been a rodent and rabbit hunter," Romney said, channeling the spirit of Elmer Fudd. "Small varmints, if you will. I began when I was 15 or so and I have hunted those kinds of varmints since then. More than two times."

Oh…varmints. But all four of the states where Romney has resided declared that there was no record of him ever getting a license, meaning that either Romney is a closet illegal varmint hunter, or that all his life-long varmint hunting has been done in Utah, which, unlike the other states, does permit unlicensed rabbit hunting. Or perhaps he was hunting varmints like cockroaches, moles, shrews and mice. Don't laugh; some of those shrews can be vicious. I saw a movie called "The Killer Shrews," once, and man…but I digress.

Romney, who also said he owned a gun but does not despite being made a "lifetime" member of the National Rifle Association, was pretending to be something he isn't, but showing himself to be something he is….a man who's willing to lie and who's not very good at it. Rather than perfecting this dubious skill, Mitt Romney should turn his energies elsewhere.

Maybe he should take up hunting.

* Natty Bumppo, also known by his Mohican name "Hawkeye," is the sure-shot hero of James Fenimore Cooper's classic novels, "The Deerslayer," and "The Last of the Mohicans." Nobody reads Cooper any more, which is why I risk insulting older Scoreboard readers by telling them something they already know and think every literate American should know. In the most recent movie version of "Mohicans," in which Hawkeye was played by Daniel Day Lewis, no one called him Natty Bumppo (they called him "Nathanial"), probably because the film-makers thought it was a funny name. And so it is. But Natty sure could hunt!

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