"I can do anything you can do better, I can do anything better than you."

Yes, she can.

That is, she can when she is the title character of "Annie Get Your Gun" and the "anything" is sharpshooting.

And when Annie sings that Irving Berlin-penned boast, she sounds a stirring charge for a woman's right to choose to compete with men.

Then again, as The Associated Press reported in Friday's Post and Courier: "More than half of female Marines in boot camp can't do three pull-ups, the minimum standard that was supposed to take effect with the new year, prompting the Marine Corps to delay the requirement, part of the process of equalizing physical standards to integrate women into combat jobs."

But surely the Marines could use a marksman, er markswoman, like Little Annie Oakley, the real-life star of Buffalo Bill Wild West shows from 1885-1902 and the inspiration for "Annie Get Your Gun."

That spunky musical opened on Broadway in 1946, starring the nonpareil Ethel Merman, and lives on around the world.

Much closer to home on the 21st century's so-called real-world stage, Gov. Nikki Haley surely isn't the sure shot that Oakley was.

Yet as reported in Thursday's Post and Courier, the Rev. Joseph Darby, first vice president of the Charleston Branch NAACP, said Wednesday during an Emancipation Day speech at Greater St. Luke AME Church: "Our governor encouraged people as she lit the state Christmas tree to do a random act of kindness and turns around and makes it hard for those in need to get health care and plays with guns like she's Annie Oakley."

The ammunition for that shot against Haley's priorities:

Her social-media postings - including a picture - hailing the Beretta PX4 Storm Compact 9 mm she got as a Christmas gift from husband Michael.

Save the geese

Our pistol-packing governor's not the only politician pandering to firearms fans. Less than a day after Haley showed off her new handgun, Columbia Democratic operative Phil Bailey tweeted a photo of state Sen. Vincent Sheehen, who lost to Haley in 2010 and is running against her again next year, with a shotgun and this caption:

"@vincentsheheen & me after he kicked my ass shooting skeet with his shotgun he's had longer than I've been living."

Shouldn't that be "vincentsheheen and I"?

And should John Kerry have blasted an innocent bird into 12-gauge oblivion in 2004?

The New York Times reported that the Democratic presidential nominee's hand was "stained with goose blood" from his Ohio mission to "shore up his macho bona fides among rural voters."

Kerry knew Al Gore would have won the presidency in 2000 if he had carried West Virginia or Tennessee (Gore's home state) - and that numerous political analysts deemed Gore's pro-gun-control stance a decisive burden in both states.

Many diplomatic analysts now suspect that Kerry's facing a long shot in his effort, as secretary of state, to convince Israeli leaders to trust Palestinian leaders.

Meanwhile, our state lawmakers persist in an escalating shooting match to please gun-rights boosters with proposals to: forbid health care providers from asking patients whether they own firearms; exempt guns or ammo made and kept in S.C. from federal regulation; ban "universal background checks to further restrict the purchase or ownership of guns" in our state.

OK, so Lindsey Graham, our state's senior U.S. senator, has introduced legislation that would expand background checks to prevent the mentally ill from buying guns at gun shops. But that bill, triggered 11 months ago when a disturbed woman pointed a gun at an Ashley Hall school official on Rutledge Avenue, doesn't include background checks at gun shows.

And if the goal is to get more guns in more American hands, why don't federal lawmakers pass an Affordable Firearms Act to impose price controls on gun dealers?

Know your prey

Too many folks are too protective of their right to buy the weapons they want. Too few folks aren't protective enough of their right to buy the health insurance they want.

Too bad, too, that more folks don't get this moral of the "Annie Get Your Gun" story:

She learns to aim not just for bull's-eyes, but for true love.

And before wasting emotional ammo on stretching the Second Amendment beyond practical 21st century bounds, heed this enduring reminder from Annie:

"The gals with umbrellers,

Are always out with fellers,

In the rain or the blazing sun,

But a man never trifles,

With gals who carry rifles,

Oh you can't get a man with a gun"

Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is wooten@postandcourier.com.