Yes, we know it’s all a show, that it’s all about appealing to (appeasing) the NRA crowd, and demonstrating that a buttoned-down insider like Mitch McConnell is really one of the guys. Fine. But I have to say, there’s something about it that just feels sinister.
OK, so John Kerry pandered too in 2004, with his whole hunter shtick, but McConnell did something very different at CPAC this past week. He brought a gun to an explicitly political gathering (he then handed it to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), as part of presenting Coburn with an NRA lifetime achievement award). Now, it’s not like taking out your Colt .45 and laying it upon your desk on the Senate floor, but it’s one more example of the mixing of politics and implicit violence that conservatives are deploying more and more often.
Among countless other examples, last month we saw Todd Staples, a candidate for lieutenant governor in Texas, run the following TV ad:
“You’re not a king, and Texans bow to no one,” Mr. Staples says, looking directly into the camera and addressing the president, before he is shown picking up a gun at a store, aiming it over a counter and vowing to “fight Obama’s liberal agenda.”(snip) [Staples] ends on an equally aggressive note: “So, Mr. President, if you still want to mess with Texas, we’ve got a saying for you: Come and take it.”
In response, Kathleen Hall Jamison, the head of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, asked: “Why would need [sic] a gun to fight an agenda? You don’t shoot a policy or shoot an agenda—you fight an agenda with words.” Great question.