The bodies of the innocent were still strewn on the Las Vegas pavement and the motive of the shooter was a mystery, but the media-political confederacy was certain about who was to blame. It was American society or, more precisely, those people who don’t realize that the Second Amendment isn’t worth the parchment it’s written on.
Lefty pols had already tweeted their way into the bloody scrum, and that gave the Democratic media all the talking points they needed. Three of the first four questions at Monday’s White House press briefing were about gun control, as were more than half the total.
Actually, it is incorrect to call them questions. They were demands, arguments and opinions with questions marks affixed as fig leaves.
Where does President Trump stand on background checks, when will he speak up, can he lead a bipartisan coalition to new restrictions, and so on. The scene had all the sincerity of rehearsed arguments being trotted out for a televised performance. There was zero doubt that more government restrictions were the only correct answer.
Shades of McCarthyism were in the air, too, and I almost expected a reporter to ask press secretary Sarah Sanders, “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the National Rifle Association?” with the NRA the new communism.
The assembled press didn’t display similar curiosity about the lives of the 59 dead or the killer’s motive or the courage of first responders or the condition of the more than 500 injured. Nor were they interested in the president’s earlier remarks, where he called the slaughter “an act of pure evil.”
In short, all the human things about Las Vegas that captivated the nation were of little interest to the media and their favorite politicians.
Instead, they were conducting their business — the business of stoking political conflict in the midst of unspeakable tragedy.
“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” Rahm Emanuel, then a congressman, said shortly after the 2008 election. “What I mean by that is that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”
So it is with gun control. Every slaughter is an opening to capitalize on grief and hope the public gives government license to do what it previously rejected.
Of course, not all slaughters are exploited equally. Chicago, where Emanuel is now mayor, is on a historic killing spree, with more than 500 murders already this year.
Chicago has an ongoing mass murder problem, even as it has among the nation’s strictest gun control laws, to little effect. Yet the Democratic media rarely mention the slaughter there or in Baltimore or Detroit, all of which take place under Democratic mayors with very restrictive gun laws.
Murder carried out daily by illegal handguns, and involving mostly the death of black males living under liberal mayors, doesn’t motivate the national media. Could it be that there is no political advantage to be had, and thus no business interest in the carnage?
The fixation on the national politics of mass shootings is as misguided as it is insincere. As an article on fivethirtyeight.com notes, “mass shootings become a symbol of gun violence in general” despite being different from nearly all other gun-related deaths. “Two-thirds of the more than 33,000 gun deaths that take place in the US every year are suicides,” the article reports.
Again, there is very little interest from mainstream news organizations — unless the deaths are the kind that could lead to new federal gun restrictions.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not an absolutist about the Second Amendment, or the First. I wholeheartedly agree my right to free speech doesn’t extend to yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. Restrictions are part of freedom’s deal, but the details are everything.
As the late Antonin Scalia affirmed in Heller, where he wrote the Supreme Court’s majority decision upholding the rights of a Washington, DC, man to get and register a handgun, and thus an individual’s right to bear arms, the government’s right to impose restrictions also has limits.
Noting that DC had many options available, Scalia wrote, “But the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table. These include the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home.”
That 2008 ruling is a landmark that recognizes both the literal words of the Second Amendment and government’s interest in imposing limits.
We might actually be able to break the gridlock if the absolutists on both sides understood the wisdom of Scalia’s reasoning before ginning up the simplistic and polarizing anger machine.
Michelle’s Nicole shoulder
Did ya hear — Michelle Obama has endorsed Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis for mayor of New York?
Well, OK, not yet, but it’s just a matter of time. That’s the only way to read the former first lady’s remarks criticizing women who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton last year — as a rationale for backing Malliotakis.
“What does it mean for us as women that we look at those two candidates, as women, and many of us said, that guy, he’s better for me, his voice is more true to me,” Obama said at a Boston conference.
“Well, to me that just says you don’t like your voice. You like the thing you’re told to like.”
Strong stuff, given that 42 percent of all women, and 53 percent of white women, shunned Clinton to vote for Donald Trump.
But following Obama’s lead, surely Madeleine Albright, Gloria Steinem and the others who insisted that gender trumped all in 2016 will line up for Malliotakis against Mayor de Blasio. After all, this is also a chance to make history by giving New York its first female mayor.
Only one woman, Ruth Messinger, on the Democratic line in 1997, was a major party nominee. Other hopefuls in the modern era, including Bella Abzug, Carol Bellamy and Christine Quinn, lost primaries.
Malliotakis is the first to hold the GOP line, but gets little attention for her breakthrough. Nobody even talks about her glass ceiling.
All that’s about to change, once Dem women rally to her cause. Indeed, it can’t be long until Clinton herself makes sure that sexism doesn’t stand in the way of another qualified woman.
As a bonus, Clinton would be putting a stick in the eye of de Blasio. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?
Don, the diviner
Reader Robert Britting offers a provocative idea about Donald Trump’s remarkable ability to read the public mood.
He writes: “Trump IS the audience he represents, just with a lot of money. That’s why he’s tapped into them.
“It’s a bit like casting an actor: The best are those who don’t need to act.”
Equifax ain’t fiction
Headline: “IRS awards multimillion-dollar fraud-prevention contract to Equifax”
It’s a true story, but if you made it up, nobody would believe you.