Late last month, longtime Field & Stream writer David E. Petzal took to his Gun Nut blog on the outdoor magazine's website to skewer what he called the "Joe Biden School of Defense." Citing Biden's widely circulated comments at a Parents Magazine town hall -- that, rather than own an assault rifle, all a woman needs to do is fire two shotgun blasts in the air if she feels threatened at her home -- Petzal deemed the vice president's recommendations to be "lunatic advice":
Either he was hit in the head, very hard, at some point in his life and hasn’t gotten over it, or else he has reached that state enjoyed by some senior citizens who will say whatever pops into their brains because they simply don’t give a s**t any more.
The harsh critique apparently caught the attention of the White House communications team, though not for the asterisked profanity. In a followup blog post on Tuesday, Petzal wrote that Biden's flack had reached out to the magazine and, in an "outraged communication," demanded that they retract the joke about Biden having possibly hit his head.
When he was serving as a senator in 1988, Biden underwent a pair of surgeries to address an aneurysm in an artery that supplies blood to his brain. (The Associated Press reported at the time that the procedures lasted about four and a half hours and went smoothly.) Though Petzal didn't share the dispatch from the White House, the vice president's team apparently found the line insensitive.
Petzal declined to scrub the line. He did, however, offer an apology to the vice president, in a post entitled, "Sorry, Joe":
The retraction was refused, but I would nonetheless like to apologize to Vice President Biden. I was completely unaware of his medical history, and had I known about this episode I would not have joked about the condition.
A Biden spokesman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the White House's exchange with the magazine. Petzal's critical post of Biden -- as well as the White House's response to it -- came after Field & Stream editor Anthony Licata conducted a lengthy interview on gun rights with the vice president, but before that interview was posted online.
Licata was out of the country on Friday and couldn't respond to a request to elaborate on why the magazine chose not to retract the line. One likely rationale: Petzal was merely being rhetorical.
If the White House communications team expected quick compliance to their request, they probably aren't regular readers of the Gun Nut blog, which promises "rantings and ravings" from the opinionated Petzal and his fellow gun scribe Phil Bourjaily. Petzal ended his apology post to Biden with this:
I’ve requested, through the magazine, that the Obama Administration send me complete medical histories of all its personnel who have anything to do with firearms legislation and about whom I might write so that incidents of this sort can be avoided in the future.