Saturday, February 02, 2013

Bangin' 51st Birthday: White House Releases Photo Of President Obama Shooting A Gun At Camp David- UPDATED

Sam Kass was with the President at Camp David:  Does the assistant chef skeet shoot, too?...
UPDATE, Feb. 4: WH answers questions about photo
*Update 2 at bottom of post
After days of headlines over whether or not President Obama actually shoots skeet when he's at Camp David, the White House today released an official photo of the President in action on his 51st birthday last August at the highly secure presidential retreat.  "President Barack Obama shoots clay targets on the range at Camp David, Md., Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012," read the caption with the photo by chief White House photographer Pete SouzaUPDATE 1: A time stamp on the photo says that it was taken at "7:19:21 PM (timezone not specified)."

Critics pounced after President Obama was asked "Have you ever fired a gun?" during an interview with The New Republic published on Jan. 27.  President Obama responded "Yes, in fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time." 

That led to many demands for an official photo, but Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters during last Monday's daily briefing that he had not seen a photograph of the President in action. 

“When he goes to Camp David, he goes to spend time with his family and friends and relax, not to produce photographs," Carney said.

On Saturday, August 4, 2012, in the midst of his re-election campaign, President Obama traveled to Camp David after playing golf during the day in the DC area, and spent the night celebrating his birthday at the woodsy compound on Catoctin mountain with family, aides and friends, including assistant chef and Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass.  Which naturally raises the question--is Kass a skeet shooter, too?  

The President in his TNR interview said that his guests also hit the pigeon range, when asked if the sport shooting includes "the whole family."

"Not the girls, but oftentimes guests of mine go up there," President Obama responded.  "And I have a profound respect for the traditions of hunting that trace back in this country for generations. And I think those who dismiss that out of hand make a big mistake."

Like President Obama, Kass is also a lefty. They play golf, football and basketball together, so shooting is not out of the question.  Kass was in the President's golf foursome on the day the shooting range photo was taken, so maybe his birthday dinner for the President was a nice stew of clay pigeons.

The President and his party returned to Washington on Sunday, August 5th.  

The White House on Saturday pushed the presidential shooting photo on Twitter, with tweets from Carney, Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, and former Senior Advisor David Plouffe.  Pfeiffer and Plouffe both chided those who are skeptical of the President's expertise with guns, with Plouffe channeling Clint Eastwood as he called them "skeet birthers."

****UPDATE 2:  The internet was filled with stories about the image on Saturday, and Twitter users went wild, tweeting with the hashtags #skeetgate and the derogatory #NextWhiteHousePhoto.  

Plouffe also weighed in with another tweet, writing "Day made. The skeet birthers are out in full force in response to POTUS pic. Makes for most excellent, delusional reading. #whereistrump."  Samples of tweets with both hashtags are below.  

The #skeetgate hashtag started being used earlier this week, when Carney told reporters that he had never seen a photo of the President shooting skeet.

A sampling of #NextWhiteHousePhoto tweets:

A sampling of the #skeetgate tweets:

*Photo by Pete Souza/White House