« Insult to injury | Main | Second prize is two seats on the commission »

Throwing tantrums

Silly me; I thought that the idea of a pro-Second Amendment administration supporting the Second Amendment would be a big yawner of a story. But the New York Times and the Washington Post treated it as big news, and today, the Times' Bob Herbert froths at the mouth in his rush to condemn John Ashcroft. That's easy for Herbert, because Ashcroft represents everything Herbert hates.

The first rule of bashing politicians for supporting the Second Amendment is to mention the National Rifle Association as much as possible (six times in one column, for those of you scoring at home). If you gave Herbert a choice between the NRA and NAMBLA (which promotes sex between men and boys), he wouldn't have to think very long before choosing the latter. So not only does Herbert mention the NRA, but he argues, quite ludicrously, that Ashcroft only took the "transparently political" position because the NRA "just happened to have been a major Ashcroft campaign contributor." As if there were something wrong with taking political positions, and as if there were no supporters of the Second Amendment until the NRA came along. And this exemplifies Herbert's biggest failing as a pundit: he simply cannot accept -- in fact, cannot comprehend -- the idea of honest policy disagreement. Politicians who disagree with his views are not just wrong, but venal, greedy, stupid, selfish, and/or racist.

The N.R.A. has seldom had a better friend in government than Mr. Ashcroft. That was proved again on Monday when the Justice Department, in a pair of briefs filed with the court, rejected the long-held view of the court, the Justice Department itself and most legal scholars that the Second Amendment protects only the right of state-organized militias to own firearms. Under that interpretation, anchored by a Supreme Court ruling in 1939, Congress and local governmental authorities have great freedom to regulate the possession and use of firearms by individuals.
Leaving aside Herbert's misrepresentation of the 1939 Miller ruling, I don't know how Herbert knows what "most legal scholars" think on the subject; it's certainly not a universal view, and there are very prominent legal scholars, including liberals like Lawrence Tribe, who would disagree.

But even that isn't enough for Herbert, so he goes on to become the latest person to play politics with the war on terrorism:

How weird is it that in this post-Sept.-11 atmosphere, when the Justice Department itself is in the forefront of the effort to narrow potential threats to security, the attorney general decides it would be a good idea to throw open the doors to a wholesale increase in gun ownership?
How weird is it, Bob? Perhaps that's because the Second Amendment is not a threat to security, but a guarantee of security?  It was despicable when Ashcroft accused Democratic critics of Bush of being treasonous, and it's despicable of Herbert to insinuate that protecting the Second Amendment is somehow promoting terrorism.

But guns are evil, and Ashcroft is evil, and Herbert doesn't want to let anybody forget that.


TrackBack URL for this entry:


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 9, 2002 7:06 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Insult to injury.

The next post in this blog is Second prize is two seats on the commission.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.31