Players: Matthew Scully
Bush Speechwriter Emerges as Animal Welfare Advocate
By Shankar Vedantam
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 24, 2004; Page A21
Quick, does Matthew Scully sound like a Republican?
He wants increased government regulations of corporations that mass-produce animals for slaughter. He is against "free-market" techniques of conservation, in which some animals are killed or captured in order to raise money to protect others. He wants the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the Safari Club, a powerful hunting advocacy group.
Scully may sound like a liberal, but he is a conservative with impeccable credentials: He works in the White House as a speechwriter for President Bush.
He has also emerged as a potent voice for animal welfare in what is widely regarded as a red-meat White House. Groups fighting animal cruelty consider him a powerful advocate, and Scully is helping to advance their issues.
"He has had a substantial positive impact," said Wayne Pacelle, the chief executive-designate of the Humane Society of the United States, who credited the White House for being open to Scully's views. "I don't say this lightly: He's a hero to animal advocates across the country."
Much of that reputation rests on Scully's 2002 book, "Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy." In it, Scully denounced Norwegian and Japanese whale hunters, industrial farming techniques and the hunting of trophy animals.
Although animal welfare is usually thought of as a liberal cause, Scully argues that it ought to be a central issue for religious conservatives.
"Religious people . . . hold a kind and merciful view of life, the faith of the broken, the hounded, the hopeless," he wrote. "Yet too often, they will not extend that spirit to our fellow creatures. More than anything else, I hope with this book to speak to those people."
In interviews, Scully, 45, said animal welfare is a nonpartisan issue. Everyone, he said, can agree it is wrong to inflict needless cruelty on animals for profit and to use wildlife and farm animals as "resources" no different from wood and steel.
Such cruelties exist because ordinary people ignore where the meat they eat comes from, Scully said. People who love animals such as dolphins and elephants are uninterested in the lives of chickens and hogs. But people -- Scully calls them "moral actors" -- can alter the workings of the free market by making choices about what kind of meat they buy, or whether they eat meat at all.
"It's caprice to say my dog is deserving of my care and that dog in the shelter can be disposed of," Scully said in an interview at his office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where his computer's wallpaper is a picture of a dog bounding down steps. The dog is Lucky, Scully's boyhood pet, to whom his book is dedicated.
Scully, a vegetarian for 30 years, talked about individual responsibility when discussing a hog farm he saw in North Carolina where pigs spend entire lives in narrow crates.
"Pigs and lambs and cows and chickens are not pieces of machinery, no matter how cost-efficient it may be to treat them as such," he wrote in his book. "Machinery doesn't cry or feel frightened or lonely. And when a man treats them this way, he might as well be a machine himself."
Smithfield Foods, whose farm Scully wrote about, said in a statement that the company complies with all laws and houses animals in "an environment consistent with their physiological needs."
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
Matthew Scully wrote the book "Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy," which denounced Norwegian and Japanese whale hunters, industrial farming techniques and the hunting of trophy animals.
(Susan Biddle -- The Washington Post)
Title: Special assistant to the president and deputy director of presidential speechwriting.
Education: Attended Arizona State University.
Family: Married, no children.
Career highlights: Author, "Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy"; speechwriter for former governors Robert P. Casey of Pennsylvania and Fife Symington of Arizona; literary editor, National Review.
What he is reading: An advance copy of "Pretty Birds," a forthcoming novel by National Public Radio's Scott Simon.
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