Novak: Can one bitterly cling to an individual right?

posted at 10:10 am on June 30, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Robert Novak attempts to deconstruct Barack Obama’s beliefs on gun rights and the DC gun ban, and finds it difficult to do.  It’s not that he doesn’t have any evidence, but that the evidence is contradictory, as Obama has shifted around and temporized enough to argue almost any position by now.  And if he wants to make inroads among Hillary Clinton Democrats, let alone independents and moderate Republicans, he’ll need all of those positions open to him:

Such relief is typified by a vigorous supporter of Obama who advised Al Gore in his 2000 presidential campaign. Believing that Gore’s gun control advocacy lost him West Virginia and the presidency, this prominent Democrat told me: “I don’t want that to happen with Obama — to be defeated on an issue that is not important to us and is not a political winner for us.” He would not be quoted by name because he did not want abuse heaped on him by gun control activists.

This political reality explains the minuet on the D.C. gun issue that Obama has danced all year. Liberal Democrats who publicly deride the National Rifle Association privately fear the NRA as the most potent conservative interest group. Many white men with NRA decals on their vehicles are labor union members whose votes Obama needs in West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. That is why Obama did not share the outrage of D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, an Obama supporter, over the Supreme Court’s decision.

What may be Obama’s authentic position on gun rights was revealed in early April when he said at a closed-door Silicon Valley fundraiser that “bitter” small-town residents “cling” to the Bible and the Second Amendment. That ran against his public assertion, as a former professor of constitutional law, that the Constitution guarantees rights for individual gun owners, not just collective rights for state militias. But his legal opinion forced Obama into a political corner.

Novak raises an interesting point.  Take a look at Obama’s remarks in full context to that Billionaires Row fundraiser in April and get a glimpse of his real attitude towards gun ownership:

But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there’s not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

Look at the equivalences drawn in this passage.  Obama equates gun ownership with xenophobia, anti-immigrant hatred, and bitterness.  (He also oddly equated it to “anti-trade sentiment” at a time when Obama himself offered “overheated” populist anti-trade ranting.)  Unless Obama cheers xenophobia and hatred, clearly he thinks of gun ownership in very negative terms, something he can end with economic progress through federal intervention.

Now, of course, he says that he supports an individual right to gun ownership and that the DC gun ban “went too far”.  That’s not entirely exclusive to his remarks in San Francisco, but it doesn’t make him a defender of gun rights, either.

Now, one might think that of all issues in this election, we could expect clarity from Obama on the Constitutional law issue of gun ownership.  As Novak writes, it’s actually been the one issue Obama has tried to avoid.  The Constitutional law scholar and lecturer tried saying that he didn’t have enough information on the case and “ha[d] not studied the briefs” — even though this was one of the biggest Constitutional law cases in decades.  As a candidate for the Presidency, Obama had to understand the importance of the case.

Why didn’t he make it his business to understand the issues?  Because being a cipher was more politically expedient.  Obama can’t come out and say what he thinks to a bigger crowd than a small group of Frisco hard-Left elites because it would lose him the election.  And if gun owners begin to consider what kind of justices Obama would nominate to the federal bench, they may realize that Heller could eventually get reversed by a later court more interested in imposing policy than respecting the rights to which Obama believes Americans bitterly cling at the moment.


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Ed: “Why didn’t he make it his business to understand the issues? Because being a cipher was more politically expedient.”

Doesn’t matter where Obambi stands on any issue. He represents Hope and Change. And McCain is really George W. Bush. No contest, right?

MrLynn on June 30, 2008 at 10:18 AM

Never has a naked emporor made it so easy for others to remove his imaginary garments.

singlemalt_18 on June 30, 2008 at 10:19 AM

Why didn’t he make it his business to understand the issues?

He does understand. He fully understands just how stupid and willing to suspend disbelief liberals are.

This is the same as the public campaign financing issue. He “discovered” it was broken between April and June.

But the Messiah need only make a statement which to thinking people is transparent in its duplicity but is gospel to the mindless.

drjohn on June 30, 2008 at 10:22 AM

Obama has shifted around and temporized enough to argue almost any position by now

As inartfully as he does this, it is by design. He’s trying to be everything to everyone by being nothing and letting others see what they want in him. His is the Horoscope Candidacy.

token on June 30, 2008 at 10:22 AM

Doesn’t matter where Obambi stands on any issue. He represents Hope and Change. And McCain is really George W. Bush. No contest, right?

MrLynn on June 30, 2008 at 10:18 AM

You ‘re right. Now AP’s main job is to follow
When & where Obama gets hair cut . – Really.

Anita on June 30, 2008 at 10:22 AM

What did you expect from someone that does not know how to treat asthma?

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on June 30, 2008 at 10:25 AM

I’m glad Novak highlighted Obama’s embarrassing non-answer in the Philadelphia debate. It is simply not possible that he or his campaign would have been so stupid as to not expect that issue to be brought up in a debate in a city that is wracked by gun violence. Gun owners in Pennsylvania saw that debate and came out in droves to vote for Hillary. Obama only won 65% of the vote in Philadelphia itself, mostley because of that horrible debate performance.

It was obvious then and still is that Obama has practiced an artful dodge on the gun issue. It’s up to us to keep hammering him on it.

rockmom on June 30, 2008 at 10:28 AM

Never has a naked emporor made it so easy for others to remove his imaginary garments.

singlemalt_18 on June 30, 2008 at 10:19 AM

My suspicion is that Obama’s losing candidacy will end up doing the nation an enormous good. It signals the end of the civil rights era, (regardless of what the Sharptons of the world say), it reveals the hidden world of minority racism, and it exposes the craven attempt by Democrats to gain power at any cost–even the cost of running an incompetent and jeopardizing our futures.

Hopefully, the name Obama will join that of Icarus as a synonym for hubris.

JiangxiDad on June 30, 2008 at 10:34 AM

Wait until the Obamunists are in power. Then we will learn the messiah’s real position on gun control and a lot of other things.

Cinematicfilm on June 30, 2008 at 10:34 AM

Oh, you inbred hicks from flyover country, you’re not supposed to question how the Demo-Messiah is going to accomplish Peace in the Middle East or what his actual position on anything is. Just bask in the glow of his Messiahness and Holiness. Stop questioning, just orgasm every time he does a fist bump or smiles.

And they call us brainless zombies. Oy vey.

mjk on June 30, 2008 at 10:36 AM

I am waiting to see how Comrade Obama, that’s communist speak for friend, is going to come down on the Chicago gun ban. That ought to be an interesting performance.

tarpon on June 30, 2008 at 10:38 AM

Can we just get it over with, and dub him the Ishtar of candidates?

Canadian Imperialist Running Dog on June 30, 2008 at 10:40 AM

Here is something to ponder. Suppose the court had ruled the other way. That the second amendment is not an individual right, but a collective right of the states to have militias. Where then in the constitution is the right for any civilian law enforcement agency to be armed?

meci on June 30, 2008 at 10:52 AM

Make sure it is in your State constitution…

1836 Texas: “Every citizen shall have the right to bear arms in defence of himself and the republic. The military shall at all times and in all cases be subordinate to the civil power.” Declaration of Rights, cl. 14.

1845 Texas: “Every citizen shall have the right to keep and bear arms in lawful defence of himself or the State.” Art. I, § 13.

1868 Texas: Every person shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defence of himself or the State, under such regulations as the legislature may prescribe.

1876 Texas: Every citizen shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defense of himself or the State; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms, with a view to prevent crime.

Current Texas rifle, shotgun, and handgun law:

Permit to Purchase NO
Registration of Firearm NO
License of Ownership NO

Because a citizen of Texas has no requirements to register or license a firearm the exact number of firearms in the state is unknown. Best guess estimate is that 41% of households have at least one weapon.

God bless Texas!

Limerick on June 30, 2008 at 11:13 AM

Never has a naked emporor made it so easy for others to remove his imaginary garments.

But his supporters are so hypnotized that many of them will not notice, and some who do will just accept it as another kind of change.

njcommuter on June 30, 2008 at 11:17 AM

200 million guns in the hands of 60 million owners, that is a LOT of votes.

I think Springfield Armory should invite the candidates out for a day of BBQ and target shooting, there to present to each man a match-grade M1A. The future CinC of the military should at least be able to competently handle and shoot a rifle, no?

Film the entire event and put it on YouTube; Obama’s Dukakis moment.

Bishop on June 30, 2008 at 11:21 AM

Make sure it is in your State constitution…

Maine’s got it covered:
Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned.(Emphasis mine)

After Heller, even the ultra-liberal congressman from southern Maine praised the decision. This state has a very high rate of gun ownership and concealed carry permits and our gun crime rate is extremely low.

Slublog on June 30, 2008 at 11:21 AM

Nobody was better than slinging the blarney that Bill Clinton. He could talk out of both sides of his mouth and sell it to everybody. Is Obambi that good?

JAW on June 30, 2008 at 11:21 AM

But his supporters are so hypnotized that many of them will not notice, and some who do will just accept it as another kind of change.

njcommuter on June 30, 2008 at 11:17 AM

Aren’t some of them now using Hussein as their middle name to indicate brand loyalty? I doubt his double talk causes them a moments discomfort.

a capella on June 30, 2008 at 11:26 AM

If you have never fired a full auto weapon then plan a swing through Texas on your next vacation. We rank #1 in the nation for REGISTERED MACHINE GUNS. Yes you can do that.
They are in the hands of gun range owners mostly.

The DFW gun range rents weapons for use on the range….including full auto machine guns.
http://www.dfwgun.com/GunRentals.htm

You don’t know what scared is until you see your wife hammering away on full auto.

If Barry does try to pull a grab when he is in office I don’t believe he will find much cooperation down here.

Limerick on June 30, 2008 at 11:39 AM

Obama: On All Sides of Every Issue.

AZCoyote on June 30, 2008 at 11:41 AM

Make sure it is in your State constitution…

I just emailed my representatives here in NY. Oddly enough, it’s not in our Constitution :)

JiangxiDad on June 30, 2008 at 11:43 AM

The audacity of vacuousness.

My collie says:

Coming from you, CC, that’s just empty praise.

If the “messiah” is elected, they should move the White House to the international space station.

My collie says:

Because in the vacuum of space, no one can hear us scream?

He’ll be “President Moonbeam”.

My collie says:

Whaddaya’ bet that Jerry Brown gets a cabinet position?

CyberCipher on June 30, 2008 at 11:51 AM

Washington state has it covered. I was actually surprised…

SECTION 24 RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS. The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men.

wccawa on June 30, 2008 at 11:57 AM

The absolute truth is if a democrat had been in the White House instead of Bush, your second amendment rights would’ve been null and void. Bush by placing Roberts and Alito on the court has slowed the court from making the laws of the Congress from being irrelevant in regards to the people’s reprentatives. Laws by judicial action is a ploy that will be more valid as the democratic “dumbing of America” proceeds. Its a socialist thing.

volsense on June 30, 2008 at 11:57 AM

It doesn’t matter, he is for it now…that is all the MSM cares about. It does not matter that in 9 months he will be against it, because circumstances change, he is for it-kinda now.

right2bright on June 30, 2008 at 12:04 PM

Compared to Bill, the Obamessiah is a rank amateur in the “being on all sides of the issues” department. Bill ran as a “moderate” on all issues, including the right to keep and bear arms. Then on inauguration night, he told a group of liberal lady supporters, “The only way for a true liberal to get elected is to masquerade as a moderate until it’s too late for the enemy to do anything about it.” I suspect Bill’s definition of “The Enemy” had more to do with the RNC than, say, al-Qaeda.

And then, after campaigning as someone who “respects people’s gun rights”, in his first State of the Union Address he just gave us that s**t-eating grin of his and drawled, “Yew send me th’ Brady Bill an’ I’ll shore sign it.”

He did, however, have enough deductive ability to realize that it was the Brady law and the “assault weapon” ban which cost his party control of Congress and most state legislatures two years later.

The only difference I foresee between the two, as President, would be that Obama would be in a perpetual snit about how people don’t realize how brilliant he is, and keep asking him to explain his actions.

After all, gods are not supposed to have to keep explaining themselves to mere filthy mortals.

cheers

eon

eon on June 30, 2008 at 12:07 PM

You’re going to find Obama’s thoughts on a given topic difficult to deconstruct for the same reason that it’s difficult to define the structure of cotton candy.

It’s mostly air.

TheUnrepentantGeek on June 30, 2008 at 12:18 PM

Novak: Can one bitterly cling to an individual right?

Yes it was a very good 2nd Amendment Right victory. However IMO, the court didn’t go far enough and left to many open holes in the ruling. The 2nd Amendment has 27 words, and all it would have taken is a one page response, instead of 151 pages of babble. The very reason for the Bill of Rights, and Amendments was because the citizenry felt left out of the Constitution, and demanded individual guarantees. The framers kept the wording very simple, yet, our courts have written thousands of miles of rulings, and in the process have whittled away at OUR basic guarantees. WHY???

byteshredder on June 30, 2008 at 12:21 PM

I think Obama is remarkably consistent in his views on the 2nd amendment and God. You see, we DO cling to the 2nd Amendment as a RIGHT. But where do those rights come from? Government? No. From GOD as inalienable gifts. Stated so in the Declaration of Independence and codified in the US Constitution.

So Obama’s right about what we cling to, just wrong about why. We cling to guns as an inalienable right and we cling to God as the only entity capable of keeping the governments grimy paws off of our rights.

JonPrichard on June 30, 2008 at 12:47 PM

The idea that Obama supports an individual’s right to own a gun is utter nonsense. The Chicago media know his Illinois legistative record doesn’t support that view, and if they weren’t so enamored with him they could quickly search the General Assembly’s website during his short tenure and find examples like this:

In 2003 Hale DeMar, a Wilmette homeowner, shot an intruder who had broken into his home for the second time in 24 hours. After Demar was charged with violating the village’s handgun law while trying to protect his family an Illinois legislator sponsored a bill in 2004 to protect homeowner’s who use their guns in self-defense.

Obama voted against the bill and voted not to override the governor’s veto of the bill even though it had overwhelming support of lawmakers and the public — it passed 41-16.

So how does the media’s belief that Obama supports an individual’s right to own a gun square with the fact that he voted against allowing individuals in Illinois to use a gun in self-defense? It doesn’t and don’t expect them to let the public know.

Sensible Mom on June 30, 2008 at 1:21 PM

His is the Horoscope affirmative action Candidacy.

token on June 30, 2008 at 10:22 AM

fixed

urbancenturion on June 30, 2008 at 1:36 PM

Well constructed, Ed. Bottom line is, as it always is, that liberals and leftists simply cannot speak their mind and state their true positions in a campaign for Federal office, because no one but the whackjob left will vote for them.

Twas always thus.

Jaibones on June 30, 2008 at 3:02 PM

Obama’s position on guns is quite clear, so he must be smarting from the stinging rebuke at the hands of the Supreme Court.

A better GOP candidate than McCain could club Obama over the head with the Heller decision for the next 5 months.

Add domestic drilling and building a border fence, and we could have another Republican President.

But we don’t have a better Republican candidate, so we will simply await our rights under the Obama Court.

molonlabe28 on June 30, 2008 at 7:51 PM