Bush Speechwriter Emerges as Animal Welfare Advocate
Scully also gate-crashed a meeting of the Safari Club and described how American hunters operate in Africa: "Three white guys from across the world show up, pick out the local chieftains, and throw some money around while hinting of bigger favors to come in exchange for the privilege of looting the local forests. Before this became 'conservation,' we used to call it colonialism."
Skip Donau, an Arizona lawyer and former president of the club, said Scully's account was "riddled with inaccuracies and untruths."
"I find it astonishing that this individual is a speechwriter for the Bush administration," Donau said. "His take is certainly not in keeping with what I understand the Bush administration policy on outdoor recreation and conservation is."
Scully was a reporter and editor at the conservative publications the National Review and the Washington Times before gravitating toward speechwriting for former vice president Dan Quayle and then Bush.
He rarely dwells on contradictions between his concern for animals and his loyalty to the president, former president George H.W. Bush and Vice President Cheney, who shot 70 ring-necked pheasants in one outing in December.
At the Safari Club convention Scully attended, former president Bush was the keynote speaker. Scully wrote, "what this great and kindly man himself gets out of it is hard to say."
After describing cruelties in industrial farming, Scully wrote, "I have no doubt that President George W. Bush -- a man, in my experience, of extremely kind and generous instincts, and back in Austin even a rescuer of stray animals -- would be appalled by the conditions of a typical American factory farm or packing plant."
Scully declined to comment on Cheney's hunting expedition. "I have done some work for the vice president and think the world of him" was all he would say.
In his book, Scully mocks hunters who shoot animals that are raised for that purpose: "Your typical trophy hunter today is hunting captive animals, and for all the skill and manhood it requires might as well do his stalking in a zoo."
Scully said he holds his bosses in high personal regard and points out that his views align closely with theirs on other "compassionate conservative" issues.
"Matt is strongly for animal welfare, and he is very strongly pro-life, and he sees that as part of the same continuum -- a welcoming, gentle, merciful society," said Mike Gerson, who heads the Bush speechwriting team. Gerson said Scully's views on animal welfare have been taken seriously by White House policymakers.
Gary Francione, a law professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey, said Scully's animal welfare ideas have a long history in conservative thought. But Francione, who seeks not just to ameliorate cruelty but to abolish all human exploitation of animals, believes Scully does not go far enough.
"People should be educating people about the moral and environmental disaster of meat-based agriculture," he said. The amount of grain fed to U.S. animals being raised for slaughter could provide every person on Earth with two loaves of bread a day, he said. By contrast, Francione said, animal welfare efforts such as Scully's merely raise the price of meat and make meat-eating more acceptable.
"Scully is saying we should exercise gentle dominion over animals," Francione said. "He's saying let rich people eat meat and poor people eat tofu. I find that argument totally obnoxious. . . . It's an elitist position but it fits perfectly with a guy who's Bush's speechwriter."
Scully, equal parts activist and political maven, said tangible legislative and regulatory changes were the best way to help animals.
"If you're a purist," he said, "you never welcome any reform."
© 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.
Former Migrant Worker Aims for the Moon (The Washington Post, May 25, 2004)
The Incoming Ambassador to Iraq Has Served in Hot Spots Since 1960 (The Washington Post, Apr 20, 2004)
John Kerry's 'Alter Ego' (The Washington Post, Mar 30, 2004)
FCC Commissioner's Mission: Cleaning Up Radio, Television (The Washington Post, Mar 22, 2004)
Former Math Teacher Recalculates No Child Left Behind Initiative (The Washington Post, Mar 16, 2004)