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 Moveon.org 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.