Saturday, April 14, 2007

2nd Amendment rights and presidential candidates, revisited

Regular Montana Headlines readers know that we enjoy 4&20 Blackbirds, even though we realize that for a right-leaning blog like ours to say so is received as a dubious compliment by liberal bloggers.

It is therefore understandable that we had initially decided to let pass the hyperbolic statement in Shane's links that "the Republican presidential candidate with the best record on the Second Amendment is a Western Democrat" -- basing this on one of our recent posts.

But when Moorcat picked up on this and (going from the 4&20 comment rather than from our post or the article we linked to) said that the link was "to an article about Bill Richardson and how this Democratic Candidate is more likely to be supported by the NRA than ANY of the Republican Candidates," well, we had to say something.

Neither our post nor the article we linked to said any such thing -- what it said was that Richardson was definitely better on this issue than Guiliani and Romney -- and probably better than Gingrich as well.

It most decidedly does not say that Richardson is a stronger 2nd Amendment defender than any of the Republican candidates.

Moorcat goes on to say that the article hadn't taken Fred Thompson into account, which is absolutely true. The article didn't take a number of candidates into account, since its primary purpose was to address the fact that the GOP poll-leader (Guiliani) and the guy with the dubious qualification of being the top money-leader (Romney) both have poor 2nd amendment records -- and, oh by the way, don't look to Newt for salvation on this issue.

We're still happy that we posted the link to Kopel's article in National Review along with some commentary, since it points out that Republican candidates (especially Guiliani and Romney) shouldn't automatically count on the support of those who believe that 2nd Amendment concerns are paramount.

It also points out that there is a Democratic candidate that has a better 2nd amendment record than 3 of the leading GOP candidates. In other words, being a Democrat is no excuse for not being strongly pro-2nd Amendment rights, even by NRA standards. The National Review article addresses 4 Republican candidates and all Democratic candidates, and here is the summary of Kopel's assessment:

1. Bill Richardson (D) -- excellent 2nd Amendment record other than when he was UN Ambassador, when he was under the Clintons' thumbs and didn't have much choice about what stances to take. This, of course, assumes that Richardson isn't going to tack in a different direction in an attempt to be a viable candidate in a party where an NRA endorsement is usually death to Presidential ambitions.

2. All other Democratic candidates -- abysmal 2nd Amendment records.

3. Guiliani and Romney (R) -- bad 2nd Amendment records, and although both are trying to repair them, in the process of doing so they are showing they really aren't conversant with the issues and realities involved. They also don't see the inherent contradictions between laws they praise (or want to take credit for) and other laws they now say they oppose.

4. Gingrich (R), as yet undeclared, gets panned because of his lack of understanding the reality of assault weapons and current laws about them. The point to that brief section of the article was to point out that it is important not only that candidates take good positions about the right to bear arms, but that they understand the whys of this important issue.

5. Mike Huckabee gets a glowing review, in no small part because he not only takes pro 2nd-Amendment positions, but is able to easily articulate good rationale for taking them.

6. No other Republican candidates are mentioned, but let's review them briefly:

John McCain -- the NRA previously loved John McCain, but developed one big beef against him, and one only, and that is McCain-Feingold.

The silence about McCain is notable, since Montana Headlines believes that while GOP regulars are still wary of McCain, the NRA is holding open the option of endorsing McCain, perhaps even in the primaries, if no viable candidate enters the race (Thompson) or emerges from farther back in the pack.

Now that politicians know precisely how to circumvent McCain-Feingold (with liberal groups like showing the way, and a few conservative groups like Swiftboat Veterans for Truth quickly learning how the 527 game was played,) McCain-Feingold is not as much of a worry.

Look for the very real possibility of a McCain endorsement, since his lifetime record compared to Bill Richardson is probably better. And against realistic Democratic candidates (of which Richardson does not appear to be one,) McCain towers head-and-shoulders above them on 2nd Amendment rights.

Fred Thompson -- outstanding record, again, only "marred" by his support for campaign finance reform that the NRA opposed. Again, most sensible Republicans view campaign finance reform as more foolishness than perfidy, and we suspect that 2nd Amendment advocates will ignore that.

In any event, Montana Headlines would agree with Moorcat that a currently undeclared Thompson (and not Gingrich) is the candidate that many conservatives are hoping will rise to the fore. Given the fact that some polls show him trailing only Guiliani, he is not a "back of the pack" guy.

Brownback -- excellent 2nd Amendment record

Duncan Hunter -- excellent 2nd Amendment record

Etc... from the back of the pack.

In summary, Montana Headlines would say that the coming election will almost certainly see a Democratic nominee whom 2nd Amendment defenders will oppose. The real question is whether the Republicans will nominate someone whom 2nd Amendment advocates can enthusiastically support.

And there is a tiny, but real possibility, that for perhaps the first time since the NRA has become a key factor in elections, the Democrats could nominate someone whom the NRA might want to endorse (Richardson), while Republicans might nominate someone (Guiliani) whom the NRA would actively work to defeat.

Sidenote: While we're talking about 4&20's portrayal of what we have written at MH, we will address one recent mention of us that amused us.

While we certainly agree with the sentiments that House Republicans should be willing to debate the death penalty on the floor, and while we thank 4&20 for drawing attention to the fact that the death penalty is not a partisan issue (illustrated in part by our opinion that Montana should eliminate it), we're a bit confused by this statement:

"anytime MH starts a sentence off with 'liberals think…' you can skip the paragraph."

While we were confident that Montana Headlines uses far less space reading liberals' minds than the average liberal blog spends expressing its certitude about the mixture of darkness and stupidity that lies at the center of conservatives' hearts and minds, we were still curious.

We read the linked post through, and couldn't find a single sentence of ours that began with "liberals think."

In fact, we did a quick search of the entire Montana Headlines archives, and while we don't deny that such sentences may exist somewhere, we couldn't find a single one that began with "liberals think."

Liberals think they can put words in the mouths of conservatives with impunity. Oops -- there's one.


Nathan said...

Rep. Duncan Hunter is a true conservative, whether the issue is gun control, abortion, terrorism, etc.

There's no question about Hunter's record.

Montana Headlines said...

I'm not sure that there is a more solid conservative in the race -- declared or undeclared -- than Duncan Hunter.

It is very sad that political life in California has degenerated so badly. A couple of decades ago, Hunter would have been able to be elected governor -- and then been a formidable Presidential candidate.

As it is, it is almost impossible for a Representative to be nominated, let alone elected.

Here is Hunter on the 2nd Amendment. Solid stuff:

It seems every election year, some liberal politician dons an NRA cap and grabs a shotgun for a hunting photo-op, as if that means they support our right as Americans to keep and bear arms. I, myself, thoroughly enjoy hunting, having just recently spent a great weekend hunting elk in Arizona. But, the second amendment is not about hunting. It is about the right of you and me to be secure in our homes. We must vigorously defend against all attempts to chip away at the Second Amendment. You know as well as I do that there is one thing criminals prefer over any other: unarmed victims.

Shane C. Mason said...

One quick note, this was not a 'Shane's Links' post on 4 & 20. That's all Jay and no Shane.

With that said, I would like to add that it is a bit amusing to me that you guys talk about 'conservative' values and republicans in the same breath as though they were somehow related. Cracks me up!

Montana Headlines said...

Sorry about the confusion regarding who was providing the links.

Regarding the link between conservative values and Republicans -- the whole direction of this post about Guiliani and Romney has pointed out that they aren't one and the same. So where you got that idea isn't clear.

Still, one is far more likely to find conservatism, in the old and true sense, in GOP members than in the Democratic party.

Wulfgar said...

Another note of clarification: Moorcat *did* link directly to your article concerning Richardson. As he indicated, he found it through Jay's links.

You might find it surprising that I share your and nathan's respect for Duncun Hunter's conservatism cred. I admire its honesty, and yet disagree with most of it. It should be noted that most of the rest of the nation does as well, not just California. And that is why Hunter will not get the nod for republican candidate for President.

dick said...

Why is that people accept the parameters of the media box? Did anyone hear of Ron Paul? He does exist you know. And he's been around longer then some of the other contenders for the presidential horse race and has a congressional voting record that proves he says what he means and means what he says. Hunter's doesn't even come close. Who even heard of Obama? Or Richardson, McCain, Hunter etc. until the corporate media started to talk about them. Why are they ignoring Paul? Maybe because he's on the peoples side and NOT bought and paid for by big government or big corporations.

Montana Headlines said...

Yes, Moorcat did link directly to my post -- that wasn't my point, and if I gave that impression, my apologies.

My point was that there was an untrue statement floating around that putatively had its origin in my post, and I wanted to clear it up.

I had thought that the post was clear -- Richardson's record on the 2nd Amendment is superior to two, and probably three of the GOP leading candidates.

Given the time that was spent specifically praising Huckabee (who, like Richardson, is not a front-of-the-pack guy), we were surprised that Jay read the article as saying that Richardson was superior to all GOP candidates on the issue.

That's not true, and I thought it should be clarified. That doesn't take away from Richardson's 2nd Amendment credentials -- it simply gives credit where credit is due to the majority of GOP candidates, who have impeccable 2nd Amendment records.

We would love to see Richardson run against a conservative Republican -- arguing about who loves that particular liberty the most.

The Wulfgar point on Hunter and Dick's comment about Ron Paul are related in my mind.

What goes for Hunter also goes for Paul -- and that is the obvious point that the last person elected to the Presidency who hadn't previously won a statewide (Gov. or Sen.) election or a national election (as Veep), and who hadn't liberated Europe (Ike), was Hoover back in 1928. Representatives are simply unelectable -- a former high-profile Speaker is a possible exception, but still, no-one has done it.

Hunter and Paul both have something in common, and Dick touches on it. Both have things that make them less than palatable to corporate interests. Look at Hunter's stance on immigration -- not exactly a fan of providing cheap labor for big business.

And consider his stance in favor of fair-trade over a rubber-stamp approval of the free-trade religion that infects the GOP. Again, it won't make lots of big corporate friends.

The GOP has a long history of policies that promote big business -- but those roots were back in the day when big American businesses were truly American. They were owned by entrepreneurial giants who, while no saints, were certainly Americans first and businessmen second.

When that changed, the GOP should have changed with it, standing with its populist base of independent businessmen, farmers and ranchers, middle-class workers, upper-middle-class professionals, and older Americans who understand what it means to defend America rather than big corporations.

Montana Headlines said...

As a final note, I think that Duncan Hunter would be more than capable of getting elected governor in many "red states," and a governor of a state of any size at all is a viable candidate for a Presidential nomination.

To a great extent, outstanding candidates set the agenda for the party. I don't know enough about Hunter to know if he has the charisma and presence to be an outstanding candidate or the executive qualities to be a successful governor.

At the heart of the current GOP crisis is that there is no conservative GOP governor at the moment who has built a national reputation and is capable of rising to the top.

Sanford of SC is too young and hasn't cultivated a national reputation, Haley Barbour weighs too much and drawls too thickly, Bill Owens shot himself in the foot in a number of ways, Mike Huckabee has problems with his tax and spend record, we don't want another Bush (Jeb), etc...

The fact that the GOP is thinking of nominating a Guiliani or a Romney is not because the GOP's positions have changed or because we don't think that a strong candidate who happens to be conservative could win a national election. It is because there is a conservative leadership vacuum.

Ultimately, that is the fault of the party faithful, who let W and the GOP Congress get by with too much stuff that just doesn't fit with traditional Republican thought -- foreign military adventuring, big deficit spending, unlimited free trade (it was the Republican North who always favored tariffs), unlimited immigration to undercut American workers, and the like.

Jay Stevens said...

Let's see if I can finally get a comment posted...

(a) Sorry for misrepresenting the entire GOP field of presidential candidates. I don't really consider Hunter or Huckabee presidential candidates, b/c they have as much chance at winning the nomination as I do. I guess you could say the same goes for Richardson...

(b) I often write quick scribbly, provocative bits in the links posts to get people to follow the links...I'm often wrong. I'll be wrong again. I admit it. I'm just hoping I never post libel there...

(c) You're right! You've never said, "liberals think..." but you did claim to have inside knowlege on how liberals feel about the issue of the death penalty on the blog that was misleading. Thus, the "liberals think..." jab. I'm sure I've done the same. It's easier than actually culling out quotes and fairly representing the other side... : )

I'm generally sensitive on how liberals are depicted by non-liberals. The media has, after all, been slamming liberal straw men quite *ahem* liberally since 1980. I think we liberals have the right and the obligation to define ourselves.

So there you go. Sorry for muddling up my links jibes. But you got a post out of it!

Montana Headlines said...

Jay -- I enjoy your little scribbled bits of provocation, even on those occasions when they are at my expense, and normally react by laughing rather than by dashing off a drearily indignant post.

It's just when you start misleading poor, helpless, defenseless, gullible folks like Moorcat that I have to object! (OK, now Moorcat is going to hunt me down and tear me apart -- good thing I'm anonymous, since it will buy me time.)

At the risk of being cantankerous, I would challenge your assertion that in my post on the death penalty, I laid claim to any special knowledge of how liberals feel about the death penalty.

I will try to be as objective as I can in summarizing the points where I touched on what liberals say, think, or do.

First, can we agree that in general, strong proponents of the death penalty are overwhelmingly those who hold views we would generally agree on as being conservative, and that likewise strong opponents of the death penalty are overwhelmingly those who hold views we would agree on as being generally liberal?

And can we agree that strong opponents and proponents of the death penalty pretty overwhelmingly vote for liberal and conservative political candidates -- again, insofar as such labels are useful?

I said that conservatives are turned off by the "staggering levels of misplaced sanctimony and hypocrisy" shown by liberals.

I summarized that perception by pointing out that it is liberals who "weep and wail and hold candle-light vigils about the immorality of executing a cold-blooded murder-rapist who had the choice not to commit the crime and who had ample opportunity to defend himself in a strictly regulated court of law."

Would you deny that those vigils are held by those who are responsible for "interminable appeals" are overwhelmingly, almost exclusively, individuals who you and I would both agree are "liberal?" Would you deny that they proclaim the death penalty to be immoral? Is there anything inaccurate in what I stated?

I contrasted that with the fact that the line drawn in the sand on abortion by liberals in the Democratic party is drawn at birth.

Would you deny that liberals in the Democratic party defend, zealously, the right of a woman to abort a fetus/child, even after the point of potential viability outside the womb, right up to and including the 9th month?

The hypocrisy perceived by conservatives (who overwhelmingly support at the very least restrictions on abortions after the point of general viability) here is that the fetus/child who is not defended by liberals is helpless while the cold-blooded murderer who they do defend was not helpless, and had a choice of whether to commit the crime or not.

In no way did I speculate about why most liberals hold these political positions, or try to get inside their heads. I simply report on observed actions and political positions. If those positions or actions are inaccurate, let me know. I don't think they are.

Finally, I stated that "the liberal response (to conservative accusations of liberal hypocrisy) is that conservatives who oppose abortion but support the death penalty are being just as hypocritical as they are."

Are the self-described liberals who have said that to me or whom I have read stating words to those effect somehow rare or unrepresentative of liberals who oppose the death penalty?

I'm sure that I build my share of liberal straw-men, and I don't mind being challenged on it when I am perceived as doing so. I just don't think that this was one of those times.

(And really -- the media has been slamming liberals for nearly 30 years? Which network news do you watch and which major newspapers and newsmagazines do you read?)

And yes, I got a post out of all of this -- much easier than thinking up something new to write!