Sunday, 16 December 2012

Enough pious bullshit

Jay Carney’s notorious comment Friday that ‘today is not that day’ for discussing gun regulation reflects everything that is wrong about the Obama team and Obama personally. It reflects the ball-less political calculations of phony leaders waiting for the winds to shift enough to give them the right cover for action. Real statesmen would create the winds—for god’s sake, what kind of ‘right’ day are we waiting for while the entire country is imagining the carnage of 20 white grade-schoolers riddled with bullets?

Weepy Democrats will react to that harsh opinion as if they’d just been given an enema of crushed jalapeños. They’d rather join candlelight prayer circles at the Unitarian church and wait patiently for their liberal leaders—who said jack shit about gun craziness during the endless 2012 campaign—to do something in their own sweet time, which means never.

The ‘right day’ for unpopular or politically controversial action, from the politician’s point of view, is always tomorrow or next year, a lesson completely obfuscated by the film Lincoln, which teaches us that because Abe was a Great Man, he knew how to cleverly balance all the extremist forces around him and end slavery. This success was obtained, the film asserts, because Lincoln managed to cool off the radical hotheads like Thaddeus Stevens and navigate the passage of the 13th Amendment through a reactionary Congress.

The abolitionist movement gets no credit, and of course slaves themselves are just passive lumps awaiting liberation from above, upon which they break into gospel hymns in the House galleries. In fact, but unknown to viewers of Lincoln, slaves were taking things into their own hands and deserting their masters as soon as Union troops got close. Today turned out to be ‘right’ for ending their slave status, not some later moment on the leadership’s magic calendar.

Back when Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was lying in a coma from a gunshot to the head from another deranged gunman, Obama’s previous press rep, Robert Gibbs, made this statement: ‘I wouldn’t rule out that at some point the president talks about the issues surrounding gun violence’. Wow, isn’t that a ringing commitment to bold action? I guess O just never got around to that mission afterward—probably got buried under some papers.

Carney probably assumed that the latest massacre would fade from memory in due course as well, and so the president wouldn’t have to sacrifice any political capital on a divisive fight, given that fighting and divisiveness with our Republican friends is to be avoided at all costs.

But it seems that maybe, just maybe, it won’t be so easy this time. Our mayor is among the few public figures making sense on the Connecticut shooting. Bloomberg called Obama out for limiting himself to pious sentiments when the country needs proposals for action, not just hand-wringing and televised funerals.

In the end it won’t be the pols of any stripe that will move states and the feds to action—it will be people up in arms, pardon the expression. The first order of business is to insist that the conversation, long censored by the NRA bullies, HAS to take place. The details of what policies should be adopted can be worked out along the way.

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