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Apr 06, 2006

I love the animal. ...It's my kid holding the gun!


I don't get the feeling we're seeing everyone's true stripes.

Bill Frist was profiled last week by both the NYT and the LAT based on an interview he gave to the AP.  As expected, the tentative NYT was more qualified about Frist's dismal interview and poor performance as Majority Leader (Frist Revamps Image as He Looks to 2008).  On the other hand, the LAT (Frist's Senate Leadership Faulted as Self-Serving) simply let Frist's Senate Republican colleagues ride him down.

I was going to post that front page shot from the NYT article. (I call it the strangulation pose.)  However, I thought this recent hunting trip to Tanzania on Frist's PAC site was much more interesting. (Besides the zebra, you will want to also peruse the gazelle and the buffalo.)

The caption states simply: "Senator Frist hunting zebra in Tanzania with his son Jonathan."  ... But,  if the not-at-all veiled intention is to kill the animal, isn't it a bit sadistic -- especially given the docility -- to pose with it first like a friend?  Or, is that just a hunting thing?

(For more: See The BAG's ongoing Frist Investigation.)



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Are they going to kill that zebra? I sort of thought that these days, safaris involved shooting pictures instead of actually shooting the animals.

The International Herald Tribune had that NY Times article about him, but it was illustrated with this photo:

It was black-and-white, and the background was more blurry, so you got the impression that he was communicating with a higher power, and it looked like soft rays coming out from his head. Interesting that they chose this, instead of the photo that ran in the NY Times.

Frist probably figures he's covering all his bases with this photo. On one hand, his benevolent pose with the zebra initially sends the message that he's interested in wildlife preservation. But when you look again and see the guns, he's signaling that he'll be soft on gun control to appease the hunting lobby. And Republicans love to have their pictures taken with black children. The fact that this child is African is even better for Frist--he can appear to be racially tolerant without implying that he'll do anything concrete for African-Americans in the US.

Ummabdulla, I think that poor creature is already dead.

People who kill for sport are beyond my scope of understanding. And to think Frist was a medical doctor before he got into politics. What kind of disconnected mentality is that? Treating people -- killing animals.

What I really think about that man cannot be printed here.

Imagine planning a trip to Africa to ...kill a zebra!

Maybe this was more like a Cheney lifestyle "hunt" - a "shooting party" and not in any real sense a hunt. Perhaps this zebra was trucked to them, sedated, and is just waking up. Soon the zebra will stumble to its feet, totter away slowly and be shot dead with an expensive weapon by a Frist male. So, this photo documents an exciting moment in the hunt.

"Dying, Egypt..." pre-cision Korps

I am glad that someone pointed out to ummabdulla that the animal is dead. funny animal the zebra: all those stripes n stuff. Why on earth (post-intelligent design) would you signboard yourself like that, in the midst of savanah/wide open grassland, when the biggest threat to your life is a lion. (Frist, a ranger and a young Masai excluded ofcourse).
On the upside, zebras kick like mules as many a starving/dead lion or nile crocodile will testify. Broken jaw in said savannah is licence to be killed.
Most recent theory (evolutionary, if you like), sort of has it that the stripes confuse. confuse to the point that everything from a tsetse fly to a lion gets a little bit bamboozeled by what the english call a 'pedestrian crossing'. The stripes make you pull up short.
please, please William. pull up short of the crossing. obey the signals.
Shame about the stripey horse though. Condee: proceed with caution!

Bill Frist has a black son!? Don't let Karl Rove know, if he happens to be running a campaign against Frist... :-/

Masculinity's definitely an underlying narrative of this and other Republican "hunting trip" images, isn't it? They all want to be Teddy Roosevelt, after all, cuz he's the guy who invented Republican masculinity and made the hunting image iconic. Here's TR with his son, Kermit, on African safari in 1909-1910:

Because I live in a state with a lot of hunters, I can be reconciled to our local hunting & fishing customs: pheasant, grouse, duck. I can even accept deer hunting. The hunters here share my passion for habitat preservation--wetlands, prairie, forest, clean water.

But an American on a hunting safari in Africa...eww! This is all about conspicuous consumption. This has everything to do with domination and nothing to do with the environment. Frist holds up the head of a dead zebra, a dead water buffalo, a dead gazelle. It is repulsive. I can't read the semiotics.

caraf's description of the African safari as "iconic" for Republicans is very helpful. I--a not Republican--have trouble imagining the landscape of a mind that thinks this is an activity to admire.

marysz suggests that this picture communicates with the base, and that observation seems right on:
--guns & hunting for the NRA crowd;
--a safari in Africa (ie, he is rich and a man of the world) for the Republican corporate crowd;
--the patriarchal family man & his son for the family-values crowd.

In the snapshot, our attention is dominated by Frist, the zebra and his son. The little Masai boy in his bright robes and the vast East African landscape are colorful prop and timeless backdrop. The implicit relationship of the Safari Hunter to the local people & land may be reassuring to the base as well. Frist is in charge, everything is fine in Africa, the people are happy, the land is eternal. Not to worry. No threats here.

Macho Teddy named his son Kermit? I had to google Kermit.

While Kermit grew up to become a splendid writer, soldier, hunter, with famous friends, his life has a sad ending:

..."recent years of hard-drinking and hard-living had rendered his body useless for the type of service he most craved: front-line action, the absence of which made him feel inadequate and went against his Rooseveltian grain.

... Two or three times a week he’d visit a little place in Anchorage called Nellie’s Diner and have a few glasses of wine — all his broken body could handle. He was severely weak: his stomach distended, his arms and legs mere sticks. He had little strength, and found most tasks exhausting. Towards the end, it was all he could do to gather himself to make the rounds and enforce the local blackout, which he did many an evening in the company of Marston. This is how the two men were occupied early in the evening of June 3rd, 1943. When they were done, and had returned to the post, Kermit asked Marston what he was going to do next.

“Sleep,” said Marston.

“Sleep,” echoed Kermit. “I wish I could sleep.”

A short while later, alone in his room, Kermit put a .45 to his chin and pulled the trigger. His father had always said: “Where a tree falls, there let it lay.” Kermit lays today at Fort Richardson in Grave 72, Plot-A, beneath a simple white military headstone no different from that of any other serviceman. "

He was only 27 years old.

Poor Kermie.

Asta, Frist has always been an animal killer. Just not your run-of-the-mill animal killer. Check out the comment thread to The BAG's earlier Frist post (linked above) for the discussion on Frist's "experiments" on — and consequent slaughter of — undocumented numbers of cats from animal shelters when he was a med student. He himself describes the wonder and awe of holding a creature's life in his hands. So this pic is 100 percent Frist: Frist likes that edge between life and death, especially when *he* controls it.

martin, more about zebra camouflage:

The zebra's distinctive markings are effective, if counter intuitive, camouflage. WWI Allied ships used zebra-like Dazzle Camouflage paint schemes as defense against German submarines. The sharp lines and contrasting colors obscured the exact size and shape of the vessel, made it harder for U-Boats to determine speed and direction of travel of their intended victims. The patterns were quite colorful in an era just before color photography became widely available. The French cruiser Gloire models the zebra-like sense of nautical style that was much the vogue on the North Atlantic, 1917 or 1918.

People hunt zebras??

Dear Dr. Frist,

Ya gonna eat that?

RTBAG, thank you for directing my attention to that link. Gosh, I see that I was a snarky commenter back in October. My, how time flies when one is alive.

I never liked Frist and when I read about the cats, "dislike" elevated to "despise". His brand of egotism is unsettling, to say the least. IMO, he was just a few steps away from becoming a serial killer. I wonder what stopped him...

Speaking of cats, can you explain to me the bit about Calico cats and this administration? Wasn't Ashcroft afraid of calicos or something?

(I am seriously pissed about people hunting zebras. And graceful gazelles. And the buffalo, which in other cultures, gives a family the ability to farm and earn a living. As Momly commented, Hey, Frist, ya gonna eat that? Probably not.)

If Frist didn't touch every base with that photo-
commenter marysz sure did...

I'm sure Bill will eat the zebra as soon as he's finished the water buffalo.

And the cats. And the humans.

it does look alive, but glancing at the other two photos confirms my suspicions that this one is almost certainly dead as well, or at least breathing its next-to-last. you wouldn't want to get that close to the biting and kicking parts of a wild zebra otherwise.


then again, Democrats also think that gun-toting is a sign of leaderliness (as judged by the "Fighting Dem" effort to promote veterans), so I'm not sure anybody's showing much of an evolved sensibility anywhere you look...

OK, I don't mind looking stupid, lol. So this zebra is actually dead, and they're like supporting his body from behind, and holding his head up to get a good picture of it? Really, I didn't think people even did this safari hunting any more.

I found this website ( with a bunch of similar pictures, so now I see this is the routine.

The things I learn at BagnewsNotes!

mmmm...really stupid on his part. Could it be that Frist is even more stupid than Bush?

Why is anyone surprised that cat killer Frist would move on to larger game?

Men who waste God's creatures, to self inflate their own egos,
shrink in the eyes of God,
and their seeds whither in the ground.

When I pulled up, their photo of Frist was much more unflattering......AND it was juxtaposed on the opposite side by an ad insert featuring a monkey with his tongue stuck out at Frist. The tones in their complexions were very similar. Do we think it was a mistake???

While the zebra markings are somewhat effective by themselves, it's key to remember that the zebra is a herd animal. The primary effect of the markings is to make it hard for predators to pick a single (target) animal out of the herd.

Eloquent curse, DogFoNam.

As with Geedub amidst the Katrina damage, Frist is with black African CHILDREN. In another photo in his PAC-site, there are four children completely in black silhouette behind the animal. No threatening 7' tall Masai here. Even the animals looked doped up and non-threatening. It looks like they just stepped inside of a diorama at the museum.

I agree with PTateinMN about conspicuous consumption, but I think it's also conspicuous domination. And thanks to RTBAG for reminding me of Frist's creepy history with animals. That makes even creepier his presence with these doped-up animals who should be running wildly away from him.

This is cave man iconography by folks who profess a Bronze Age religion but who live in the age of space travel and science. No confusion there.

I don't know where to begin. I will attempt to maintian a hold on my visceral disgust but no guarantees. Let me start - I am not opposed to hunting. I am very opposed to trophy hunting.

That at least two of these animals are in all likelihood docile enough to have been standing still while the Senator or his surrogate shooter took them is even more revolting. As Ton Delay - killing ants is more challenging.

I will give him the benefit of the doubt on the gazelle but in truth I expect a handler was all but holding each one when he shot.

I see the Senator is careful not ot be holding a gun for his photo op. Is he too ashamed of his own passion for killing animals for no apparent reason other than to kill something?

I cannot imagine only one person in a hunting party has a weapon. Knowing bird hunting (pheasant) where typically one eats what one kills, I have seen hundreds of photos taken with the kill and there is almost always more than one shotgun in the frame.

No doubt the carcass went to feed the needy. So I guess it's ok.

Aside from being an incompetent senator and a tool of his own ambition, Frist has now leapt with both feet onto my list of sleezy trpohy hunting assholes. Possibly even ahead of Dick "DUCK!" Cheney.

You've may have seen this already, but if you haven't -- or weren't planning on commenting on it -- please check out this post over at and please comment on it. I'd love to read your take on the contrast drawn between the two images.



the zebra is dead already. you make the pose so you can show how you have made the animal docile... it would never pose like that unless it was dead and you shot it.

I noticed there is quite a thread going on Democratic Underground as an extension to this post.  I know I thought the zebra was alive, too -- although I seem to have been wrong about that (I thin).  However, it seems to also be causing some confusion at DU.  (BTW, I love the post with the cat.)  Here's the link

To bedobe,  I really like the post at Kos comparing Harry Taylor with the Norman Rockwell painting.  I might try and post it this weekend on The BAG.  There is some very good analysis in a couple of the responses, especially the comment about how the "Rockwell audience" has the decency to look up to the common man.  Personally, I didn't catch, off hand, the "freedom from fear"  underpinning.  

As a further point, your comment makes me aware how constrained I am regarding how much "image trolling" I am able to do.  With time always at a premium, I'm always a little frustrated that I can't do more fishing beyond the often staid waters of the newswires.  As a result, it really is helpful when the readership emails me links.  I might be picky about what I choose to post, but I am always grateful when something interesting -- such as the link you point out here -- graces my mailbox.  ... Certainly, less searching time affords the luxury of longer "pure looking"; more thoughtful analysis; and, of course, more graphic hijinks!

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