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Opening Arguments

Sticking to our guns

I love it when the falling-off-the-left-edge-of-the-world Journal Gazette editorial page instructs someone on how to be a proper conservative:

Hoosiers probably aren’t surprised that Sen. Dan Coats now opposes the same type of assault weapons ban he supported two decades ago. But his attempt to block the Senate from voting for or against the ban is anything but conservative.

So, I guess the JG now likes conservatives and wants to do its part to make more of them, huh? Oh, well, not quite. See, back when he supported the ban, Coats was one of those "moderate" and "well-respected"  Republicans who supported the ban as "common sense, pro-public-safety measure." But today he is he "is in the company of ultra-conservatives such as Rand Paul and Marco Rubio" who are only interested in "appealing to pro-gun conservatives."

It isn't clear to me why the planned filibuster can be thought of as "conservative" or "liberal" -- it's a maneurvering tactic used by politicians of all stripes. The JG doens't help -- it just makes the claim and expects us to accept it without explanation. The editorial also failes to explain why the proposed ban "is as sound as it was 20 years ago" -- it just throws that out there as a premise we should automatically accept as valid. Is there the remotest possibility, do you think, that Coats voted for the ban 20 years ago and is against it now because he's come to believe the ban infringed on our rights without making a bit of difference in gun violence? Say, guess the idea is "as sound as it was 20 years ago," just not in the way the JG meant.

Having said all that, though, it happens that I agree with Sen. Joe Donnelly, who is against the ban but is for an up-or-down vote, and the JG's overall point that the filibuster is a bad idea. This is a vital issue, and we should all want to know where everybody stands on it. Maybe I want to know which senators are dumb enough to support the ban, and maybe the JG wants to know which ones are mean enough to oppose it, but, hey, that's the politics game for you.

These GOP senators are being tactically stupid here. They know there aren't enough votes for the ban to pass, so they should be happy to see some vulnerable Red State Democrats have to put their names on a gun-control effort. Instead, they're allowing themselves to be painted as the uncaring obstructionists and, as far as I can see, getting nothing in return.