Barack Obama’s mention of “absolutism” in his inaugural speech on Monday drew the ire of one of its intended targets. Wayne LaPierre blasted Obama for equating absolutism on an explicit guaranteed right in the Constitution with extremism. In his speech to a hunting conference, a defiant NRA chief warned that the substitution of personal preference for the plain meaning of the text is to “mistake absolutism for principle”:
In a fiery speech at a hunting conference in Nevada, Mr. LaPierre criticized Mr. Obama’s Inaugural Address on Monday when the president said Americans should not “mistake absolutism for principle.”
That reference, Mr. LaPierre said, was intended as an attack on the N.R.A. and gun owners who believe that the Second Amendment to the Constitution provides an absolute right to bear arms.
“I urge our president to use caution when attacking clearly defined absolutes in favor of his principles,” Mr. LaPierre said. “When absolutes are abandoned for principles, the U.S. Constitution becomes a blank slate for anyone’s graffiti.”
To clarify that last line, which is otherwise a keeper, it’s when absolutes are abandoned for personal principles that the Constitution becomes a blank slate for the fashion of the day. That has long been the problem with Constitutional interpretation. Too many times have politicians found themselves unable to push their agendas past the clear meaning of the text, and then adopt a “living Constitution” to tell us that the meaning of the words change depending on the times. That’s nonsense, of course, especially because the crafters of the foundational legal document provided the mechanism to amend it to adapt the Constitution as the country sees fit.
It’s rather ironic that we’re having this discussion this week. Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of the deadliest Supreme Court decision in history, Roe v Wade, which allowed the killing of more than 55 million unborn children in the years since. The word “abortion” is nowhere found in the Constitution, and yet the “right” for one is so heavily defended by the man crying “absolutism!” and his allies that not only will his DoJ block efforts by states to limit it, he campaigned on the notion that anyone debating the “right” to an abortion is … an extremist.
For a bit of pushback onto the President’s own turf, LaPierre pulled out the class-warfare card:
He said gun owners were faced with a “false ultimatum” in the debate over stemming gun violence.
“We’re told that to stop insane killers, we must accept less freedom — less than the criminal class and political class keep for themselves,” said LaPierre. “Obama is saying that the only ‘principled’ way to make children safe is to make lawful citizens less safe and violent criminals more safe.”
Well, extremists are like that.