Tuesday, May 13, 2003

This story, if I remember right, made the front page of The New York Times last week:

President Bush and the National Rifle Association, long regarded as staunch allies, find themselves unlikely adversaries over one of the most significant pieces of gun-control legislation in the last decade, a ban on semiautomatic assault weapons.

...the White House says Mr. Bush supports the extension of the current law — a position that has put him in opposition to the N.R.A. and left many gun owners angry and dumbfounded.

The Times played this straight, but to me it looks like a con -- getting prominent placement in the Newspaper of Record for a story about Compassionate Conservative Bush (as opposed to Top Gun Bush) distancing himself from those bad old wingnuts.

A prominent D.C. strategist, apparently bucking for a Best Supporting Actor nomination, was shocked, shocked, at Bush's betrayal:

"This is a president who has been so good on the Second Amendment that it's just unbelievable to gun owners that he would really sign the ban," said Grover G. Norquist, a leading conservative and an N.R.A. board member who opposes the weapons ban. "I don't think it's sunk in for a lot of people yet."

And in case you wondered what the message of this was, the Times delivered it almost as if Karl Rove's fingers were on the keyboard:

Advocates on both sides of the issue say the White House appears to have made a bold political calculation:

--"bold"! The Bushies' favorite word to describe Bush! --

that the risk of alienating a core constituency is outweighed by appearing independent of the gun lobby, sticking to a campaign promise and supporting a measure that has broad popular appeal....

I say that this looks like a con because now there's this, from Reuters:

Delay Sees Assault Gun Ban Expiring in Congress

House Majority Leader Tom Delay, a proudly pro-gun Texas Republican, predicted on Tuesday the House will allow a 1994 assault weapons ban to expire next year.

"The votes in the House are not there to reauthorize (renew) it," DeLay told reporters.

If DeLay's right and the reauthorization dies in the House, this looks like triangulation Bush style -- instead of staking out a centrist position and genuinely advocating it, Bush fakes centrism while letting the hard right do what it wants (which is what he wants). And the Times fell for it.

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