It is over, brothers and sisters. The 2013 National Rifle Association convention, which began with a bang, has ended not with a whimper, but a whine. Or rather, a series of narcissistic whines and incendiary blusterings intended to whip up a a base that is already living in fear that their organization is gradually losing its grip on public opinion.
It seemed at times as if the convention was actually an extension of CPAC. Sarah Palin was there to speak to the masses, as was Glenn Beck. Ted Nugent made an appearance, and there was much anti-Obama rhetoric flying through the air at the George Brown Convention Center. Even with the "star power" present, however, everything and everyone at the convention revolved around guns.
And oh how the gun fetishism flowed, like water over Niagra Falls. Sarah Palin sucked up to the crowd by claiming that her song Trig's "Trigger", that she would chew tobacco to defy "government control", and claimed the "lamestream media" (yes, she's still beating that dead horse) was cheerleading the President's efforts to enact gun control legislation. It should be noted that, although Palin displayed a tin of smokeless tobacco in her "threat" to chew it, she never actually put any in her mouth.
In the meantime, Glenn Beck used his speech to take aim squarely at Michael Bloomberg. He declared that the city slogan for NYC should be "You Must Love New York", complete with Nazi salute. Apparently Bloomberg, who contributed substantial funds to the effort to pass universal background checks, has become Public Enemy Number Two behind the President, as the head of the NRA's Legislatve Action branch said:
We 5 million men and women of the NRA, we might not have billions of dollars, but we have a common decency that his money can’t buy.The notion that anything connected to the NRA is decent is laughable enough, but the claim that their supposed lack of money means they have no influence is a fantasy straight from the pages of Grimm's Fairy Tales.
It is telling that for all the hype over Palin and Beck this weekend, very little mention was made of any sitting national-level politicians attending the convention. Last year, GOP nominee Mitt Romney spoke at the convention and hammered President Obama for his supposed plan to take away Americans' freedoms. However, it did not appear to burnish his credentials as a 2nd Amendment advocate sufficiently to elevate him to the Presidency. The previous year, speakers included Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee, two men running for president but, like Romney,not actually holding office at the time.
The political cache of appearing at the NRA convention has faded over the years, and as groups dedicated to responsible gun ownership and regulation receive more support, it is likely that even hardcore Republicans will the NRA as a 21st century version of the Conservative Citizens' Council. In the next post, we will look at the leadership of the NRA, which seems determined to confirm every stereotype (fair and unfair) about gun owners in the United States.