Friday, January 14, 2011

It’s the guns, stupid!

President Barack Obama is the master orator whose words this week helped soothe the tensions caused by weekend shootings in Tuscon, Ariz., while presidential  dreamer Sarah Palin is the feisty dame whose words know how to fire up her segment of supporters.
DALEY: Getting to the point

Yet leave it to one of the biggest rhetorical stumblebums of the contemporary political scene to get straight to the point of what matters when it comes to the aftermath of those shootings of nearly 20 people, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., that left six dead.

I’M TALKING, OF course, about Richard M. Daley, our long-time mayor who goes off into retirement come May 15.

On the same day that Obama traveled to Tuscon to deliver an address at a memorial service that is being praised for offering comfort to the afflicted and that Palin managed to afflict the comfortable with her mention of the phrase “blood libel” (she doesn’t like all the people who imply her nasty rhetoric has anything to do with the angry mood of our nation these days), Daley had his own thoughts about the issue.

Daley went straight to the point in refusing to blame Palin, or anyone else. For Daley – whose city is actively resisting efforts to make it easy for any resident to purchase a firearm – it’s all about the guns.

“People can shout and say anything they want,” Daley told reporter-types at City Hall. “But they have no right to buy a gun … that has a clip of 15 rounds.”

THAT WAS JUST part of his rant against people who are trying to assess blame against Palin, or other conservative commentators, or any other individual. The man whose home city for nearly 30 years banned possession of firearms by anyone within city limits wants to ignore the commentators who say nasty things and focus on the people in our society who probably should not have access to firearms.

“It’s not the rhetoric,” Daley said. “It’s the right to carry these guns or have guns like this that kill people, and that’s what that individual did.”
PALIN: Get her a better speechwriter

For once in his professional lifetime, Daley hit the hammer on the head – rather than give us a rhetorical stumble (Remember the ‘rat in the sandwich’ line when he was talking about unsanitary restaurants?) that leaves us scratching our heads trying to figure out “What did he mean?”

Perhaps there is something about our local politicos that makes them perceive this issue more clearly. For I couldn’t help but notice that in the initial spurt of public dialogue on Sunday, while many other people were talking about restricting Internet discourse or talk radio rabble, Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., was the one person who publicly noted that the gunman in this particular incident had ammunition clips giving him access to 90 rounds – far more than was necessary for anyone to seriously say the pistol was for self-defense.

WE OUGHT TO be having a serious discussion in this country about firearms. But I am aware of the realities of some people in our society who are determined to think that somehow, the ability of a rural man to have a rifle that he uses to hunt will somehow be impeded by restricting the use of a firearm best suited for combat.

I’m also aware that many of those people are in the small segment of the population that takes kindly to the image that the former Alaska governor has crafted for herself. I’m also sure they are the ones who are outraged that the majority of people are now condemning her for her “blood libel” trash talk.

She is trying to claim that people are libeling her with the blood of those killed and wounded in Tuscon – which is a gross overstatement, while also playing off the original use of the phrase. It ties into the old anti-Semitic rants and tales that claimed Jewish people literally dipped their matzos into the blood of dead Christian children on Passover and other significant holidays.

I’m willing to give Palin the benefit of the doubt that she didn’t know that original meaning of the phrase. I know she went to college (several of them, as a matter of fact) and isn’t the stupidest person on the planet, but she also doesn’t strike me as one who has much curiosity about life beyond her specific segment of society – and I don’t expect she knew many Jewish people while living in Alaska.

SHE PROBABLY JUST thought it was a nasty-sounding line she could toss out to get her backers excited.

Considering that her original intent in scheduling an address of any kind on Wednesday (even a video post on Facebook) was to cut into the coverage of Obama trying to calm the nation by appearing at the primary memorial service in Tuscon, I think it only appropriate that her rhetoric backfired on her – and now she gets to take a few hits in return for trying to feed her public persona off the pain being experienced by those in Tuscon.
OBAMA: Did he bring us together?

You just know that in some peoples’ minds, Wednesday set the tone for a potential Obama/Palin presidential campaign in 2012. Obama brings us together, while Palin divides us.

Like I have already written, Daley has zeroed in on the practical reality that this incident ought to be a call for gun control measures to be reviewed. Although I feel I must credit Obama for one moment of inspiration in his own rhetoric.

CITING CHRISTINA TAYLOR Green, the 9-year-old granddaughter of former Chicago Cubs general manager Dallas Green, the president pointed out the accomplishments she achieved in her short life, then said, “I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it.”

That is an inspirational goal we should all strive for.


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