Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Obama on the DC Gun Ban

Barack Obama’s position on the total handgun ban in the District of Columbia has a slippery history. Although the Court overturned the ban in its decision today in District of Columbia v. Heller and Obama has released a statement that seems not to directly oppose the ruling, the position of the campaign in November was that he supported the ban. Since then, the campaign has called this formulation "inartful." Yes . . . it was very unlike the artful dodger to be so direct. As a defense of their slipperiness, ABC News reports that campaign spokesman Bill Burton argued that Obama had "refrained from developing a position on whether the D.C. gun law runs afoul of the Second Amendment." In other words, Obama’s campaign was "inartful" in claiming that Obama supported the DC gun ban because he didn’t develop any opinion about it at all?

John McCain points out that Barack Obama’s name was conspicuously missing from a bipartisan amicus brief (one that McCain, of course, signed) calling on the Court to decide the case in the way that they did today. And, of course, Chicago’s got a similar law . . . all of which led McCain to remember one of Obama’s most famous gaffes and come out of the box with this beautiful zinger: "Unlike the elitist view that believes Americans cling to guns out of bitterness, today’s ruling recognizes that gun ownership is a fundamental right -- sacred, just as the right to free speech and assembly."

I have to say that I like this side of McCain. It is refreshing (after so many years of the "new tone") to see the McCain using the words of his opponent against him and going after him like a pugilist who means to win. But I hope he will not drop it as the news cycle turns. Obama’s slippery opinions here are, more than likely, a window into his political soul. He’s hiding something of his real opinion here. Ken Blackwell noted it back in February and we had some discussion of it here. The question really comes down to something even more fundamental than Obama’s real view of gun control. McCain would do well to push this a bit.

Discussions - 5 Comments

The Ivy Leaguer, the Editor of Harvard Law Review, the lawyer, the community activist {whatever the hell that means...}, the law professor, the intellectuall titan, the false messiah, he who has breathed the rarified air of Olympus, {which was not vouschafed to us lesser mortals...}, ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- he's all over the place on the issue, squalidly scrambling about to reconcile his lefty prejudices with the commonsensical notions of the American people.

Seems that after today's ruling, the yokels of the Keystone state will be able to "cling," for a few more years at least, to their guns.

Scalia let loose with yet one more air-tight opinion, and we can be sure that in certain circles there is "moaning, and gnashing of teeth."

Yes, Dan, it occurs to me today that though Barack Obama is, in a certain sense, just another "politician"--he is, in a way, very different from the former claimant of the title "uber-pol," Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton, it seemed (and now we really know) would be slick and say whatever he had to say in order to make the people who happened to be in front of him at any given moment love him. He was an almost pathetic character--though he was ruthless. At bottom, he was a needy politician and, perhaps, the paragon of the type. We would be wrong, however, to say that Barack Obama is exactly like him. Obama is not needy for approval (like a boy burying his head in Mama's lap) . . . indeed, he appears to be uber-confident of his approval. No piker here, he wants adoration. He also wants you to know your place. But the comparison is useful because Obama is a pol. As the similarities between Clinton and Obama begin to surface, however, we should be mindful of making the mistake of equating them. He is a pol. But what kind of pol?

There's something even worse in Obama's brand of pol than there was in Clinton's it seems to me. It is worse in its effects, anyway, if not in what it says about the character of the man himself. If I may say so, it is Obama's earnestness that is offensive and, frankly, scary. I know that sounds bizarre at first blush . . . but bear with me. What I mean is this: At bottom, Barack Obama really seems to believe that all political disagreements can be resolved. This isn't simple naivete in his case--though his age makes him prone to that attack. We should be careful. It's much worse than that. It is hubris. This may be why he was so eager to meet with all those foreign dictators. He has such faith in his own personal charm and in his ability to understand the hurts of others that he actually believes he can erase political differences for all practical purposes.

Some may take exception with this argument and say that erasing political differences is the whole business of politics--argument and persuasion are it's lifeblood. But Obama's MO is different from what we commonly call "persuasion" in politics because he does not really lay out an argument against his opponents with reasoned precision and then wait for reply. He never goes out with hammer and tongs. Instead, he does what he did here in this case: state a generalized view of the situation with which it is difficult (at first) to disagree, send out feelers, hem and haw, express sympathy with both sides of the issue, and finally wait to see how things are proceeding before jumping out in front of it and claiming it as (never wholly, of course) his own. He finds what he thinks he can use in it. I'd be hesitant to say that he's cynical about this . . . I think he really believes that he is being "diplomatic" and fair-minded and sympathetic.

But, even in the statement he made on this decision in the Heller case, he takes from it what he will . . . he has a direction he wants to go with regard to gun control but, clearly, we're not yet ready (in his estimation) to hear what it is. He is biding time and, in the meantime, aggregating to himself a particular interpretation of events that permits his views eventually to slip through . . . in this way, he can say that he is consistent. He does this with American history too. He pushes his own programs through an eye in the needle of history that he has diligently pried open for himself. So, when you object in some future time to his more vigorous endorsement of gun bans, he will say that, "Justice Scalia himself acknowledged that this right is not absolute and subject to reasonable regulations enacted by local communities to keep their streets safe." Of course Barack Obama supports 2nd Amendment rights, we'll have to say . . . he said so himself . . . except for when he doesn't. Of course he's a racial healer . . . this is his claim to fame . . . except for when he isn't. Of course he's for protecting America from terrorist thugs . . . except for when he doesn't. Everything is subject to "reasonable regulation," you know. And Barack Obama and his friends (not you folks who cling to guns and God) will be the arbiters of what is "reasonable." This all comes down to the way that wisdom ought to guide politics in a republic. Barack Obama's "wisdom" is deceptive and manipulative because, at bottom, he has no real faith in you or in the superiority of our democratic-republic and its institutions. An Abraham Lincoln, in constrast, would persuade but not deceive; was prudent in stating his arguments, but did not presume that he knew better than the American people what was in its best interests. He made his case as clearly as it was possible to make it. He was mindful of his audience, yes, but always with a view to making himself understood and not giving unnecessary offense in the process. This is not what the rhetoric of Barack Obama strives to do. He is no Abraham Lincoln. He's another John Kerry (although I'll grant you that he's probably going to be a more successful one).


Julie, give some props to Bubba! He did win.

Be mindful too that since LBJ, and the events of '68, only two Democrats have won The White House. Why did Carter win in '76, and Clinton in '92 and '96? Both men were not tagged as elitists; that's why.

Carter eked out a victory over Ford, who blew it in the debate, and was simultaneously carrying the political corpse of Richard Nixon on his back, in addition to his pardon. But Ford didn't run a campaign that tagged Carter as an elitist, and Carter sold his down-home message of decency and honesty to the American people.

But he didn't win re-election, because Reagan tagged him as an out-of-touch-do-gooder, adn the economy was in a shambles.

Then William Jefferson Clinton came along. And most Dems didn't think Bubba would defeat GHWB. They thought his lead would disappear, for GHWB was coming off an enormously successful military campaign. But Bush ran some pathetic campaign, where he declined to go after Clinton. If you recall, in the final weeks of the campaign, GHWB was wandering the country asking Ameircans "who do you really trust?" The effect was odd, because Bush intimated something untoward about Clinton, but never specified the details. The whole effect was odd, strange, puzzling and disconcerting.

Since 1968, every other Dem but Clinton was tagged as somebody out-of-touch, and often the Dem was tagged as an elitist nerd to boot. And each time that happened, the Republican went on to victory.

Now when you think of it that way Julie, --------------------------------------------------- don't you feel a bit more optimistic about the GOP chances in the Fall? Doesn't Obama fit the bill, as someone out-of-touch; isn't Obama an elitist; don't you think that a good chunk of the American people are soon going to conclude the guy is nerdy, regardless of the temporary halo surrounding him because of all the false messianism attending his campaign.

So give Bubba his props, he didn't go down like the rest, {at least not in that regard...}, he prevailed.

Bubba was, {and apparently, still is...} needy. But he never went off and found some guy like Wright to lay hands over him, and to annoint him with some sort of weird chrism. I don't know of any Dem that did that. Dems have risen through party machines, that's not unusual, but I don't know of any recent politico that reached out for validation and authenticity from a guy like Wright.

I don't think anyone will come close to understanding Obama if he doesn't first understand the importance of Wright to him, and not just politically. I made this point before, but it can't be overstressed. This guy was EDITOR of Harvard Law Review, arguably the most prestigious in the country. And what did he do thereafter? HE SOUGHT OUT Wright. He sought him out. He just didn't happen into that congregation; he just didn't find himself there. He knowingly entered into that crowd, and he knowingly stayed there.

Will he win? He hasn't won The White House yet, and if McCain runs a sharp and savvy campaign against him, ------------- he won't, --------------------------------------------------------- which will leave the Left shattered.

What does Obama truly believe? Are his utopian views sincerely held?

I don't know, I've my suspicions, and I'm getting the occasional tremor in the force, but so far, nothing firm. I think one of the largest battles looming, especially if Obama prevails, is the staffing battle. Is he going to bring on someone like Robert Rubin at Treasury? Will he staff his team from the Democrat foreign policy establishment, ------------- or will he reach out for new blood. If he does the latter, then your fears will prove prescient.

I would be wary in equating domestic political interaction with statecraft. In domestic politics, no one resorts to gunboat diplomacy or a force majeure. I've no doubt that if Obama wins, some entity will quickly arrange an early test of his nerve, and I've no doubt he'll flounder. Clinton was attacked within months of taking over, {the WTC bombing in '93}, and GW was tested early by the Chinese downing of one of our Navy Recon aircraft. So I've no doubt that a test will be rapidly arranged for Obama, and he'll fail it miserably.

What are we to make of Obama's MO?

Think of it as the flow of water, moving with gravity, seeking the course of least resistance.

You could also compare it to Blitzkrieg. Without the sound and fury though. In Blitzkrieg mobile forces don't engage enemy strongpoints, they FLOW PAST THEM, allowing follow up units to complete the reduction of those now isolated and cut off strongpoints, which now exist in the rear of the advancing force. This process unfolds continually. Strongpoints are sought out, isolated, cut off, then bypassed. This method leaves the defender confused, disupted, unbalanced, constantly wrongfooted. Defensive positions can't be assumed because of the unrelenting forward movement of the offensive force. You can't set up a "line" because the enemy is not looking to engage along a line. The enemy is looking to flank, bypass, constantly move forward.

So Obama is like water seeking the path of least resistance, {bodily tossing relations and associations under the bus, changing positions and statements, issuing vague and ambiguous "clarifications"}. But he's also like an advancing and very mobile force, bypassing sharp encounters, {townhall meetings for instance}, dodging contestive situations while continually moving towards his goal, {and his goal here is to get to November with as little wear and tear as possible}.

Does he believe his message of change? Is the false messiah actually beginning to believe, like Neo in The Matrix, in his chosen status? Well, he certainly looks increasingly bored by his message. Did Reagan ever look bored? GHWB looked bored, because he was a Rockefeller Republican who didn't believe in much. Just like his son, who looks like he would prefer to be elsewhere. Does Obama look like he's on fire with a message that he's just dying to bring to the American people?

Recall the night he truly secured the Democrat nomination. There should have been a glow of deep happiness about him, as there was with Hillary, when she won the NY Senate seat held by RFK and DPM. Obama's followers were overjoyed; the media ecstatic, ------------ but two people didn't look very pleased. One was his wife, and the second was the false messiah himself. Many a commentator observed as much, he didn't look like he was energized about his victory.

What light does that throw on the problem?

It's true that he has no faith in the American people. Does Pelosi? Or Reid? Democrats aren't overflowing with confidence in the American electorate, which has rejected their nominee again and again.

He's a pal of Soros. Doesn't that say something about him?

Are your fears rational? Absolutely!

Flip flop, clip clop. I love it, someone changes their mind, and they're coined a flip flopper. I wonder, is everyone who follows politics just extremely stubborn or incapable of changing their own minds based on evidence provided to them that going another way may be the smarter choice?

I would think the opposing party would welcome a so called flip flopper. You could actually talk to him about an issue you feel passionate about with the REAL hope that you'll change his mind. Jeeze, what a concept. It's called Democracy. The freedom of choice kids. Ain't it a bitch.

I can understand people changing their minds, on things like energy reform, tort reform, bankruptcy reform, and I can understand people changing their mind on weapon systems procurement.

But what are the calculations involved regarding the Bill of Rights? What are the variables that would account for an ostensibly well-educated man flopping about on the subject. He's a lawyer, his mind was trained TO THINK as a lawyer, he's supposed to be capable of coming to an independent and objective assessment of the legal merits, or demerits of a position, or a ruling.

This hasn't anything to do with being "stubborn;" it has everything to do with intellectual clarity, and intellectual good faith.

Nothing new has been introduced into the discussion about the 2d Amendment, certainly nothing that would warrant the tortured wringing of hands that we see with Obama. Recently Lawrence Tribe "flipped" on the issue, and concluded that indeed the 2d Amendment does adhere to the individual American citizen, and not to some corporate body. But Tribe didn't subscibe his shift to new information coming to light, he simply admitted that the more he studied the original material, the more clear it became that the founders desired a well-armed citizenry.

There's nothing refreshing in Obama's current stance, nor does it indicate some sort of political maturity. What we're seeing is a man trying to reconcile the desires of the San Franscico Bay area Democrats, with those Democrats from West Virginia and Pennsylvania, {who don't share the prejudices of their Bay area fellow Democrats}.

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