Saturday, November 13, 2004

Oh Nicholas, Nicholas, how naive can one be?

In today's column, Kristof implores Democrats to change their approach to many issues, to rethink how they've approached things in the past and modify those ways as an attempt to make inroads into what he regards as a solidly red-state America. He uses gun control as an example.

I can't say I'm a die-hard reader of Kristof's column and I must say, given the few I have read, I don't feel I'm missing much. His prose is fluffy and light and very unimpressive. Just read any of Krugman's columns, and then one by Kristof, and you'll know what I mean.

Kristof's idea of the Dems modifying their tactics on this issue is to stress the health side, as opposed to the bans specifically. He wonders why things like child-proof guns are not currently in use, stating "We routinely make aspirin bottles childproof, but not guns." Hey, he's got something there! Why, no one's thought of THAT before! Wow, let's run with that one! Gads.

This idea is not new and has been proposed in the past. The problem? Yup, the NRA. You see Nicholas, it's not so much the Dems approach on this that's the #1 problem but rather the enormous power of lobbyists and money in our political system. Recall that in 1997, when President Clinton supported "trigger lock" legislation and issued an executive order mandating them for firearms of all federal law enforcement officers. The NRA was against this sensible action, stating, "Everyone knows that firearms must be stored safely, but most Americans feel that it is not the government`s business to dictate how people store things in their homes. There is no compelling need for such invasions of privacy for the following reasons:" and they went on to list several nebulous reasons. Their statement ends with this gem, "Separately, NRA`s award-winning 'Eddie Eagle GunSafe®' education program for children in grades pre-K through 6th grade has reached nearly 17 million students nationwide." The fact is the NRA plays hardball and they've been staunchly against such commensense measures -- where has Kristof been?

He then goes on to state, "One poll showed that 88 percent of the public favors requiring that guns be childproof. And such measures demonstrate the kind of fresh thinking that can keep alive not only thousands of Americans, but the Democratic Party as well." You've got to be kidding me. He actually feels that because a fat majority of the public favors something, that there's a good chance for political action to be taken. Huh? Does he know that for decades the environment has always scored over 75% positively on such polls when the public is asked about their concern for this issue and whether or not regulation is good? Yet, environmental legislation has been dramatically weakened on all fronts since 2000. Oh, and go ahead and search for polls on the internet about stem cell research. I found one by ABC News (June 2004) that had the public in favor of this research by a 58-30 margin, and yet that landslide opinion didn't seem to sway Bush or many other elected officals.

Since November 2nd, Democrats have been getting AMPLE advice on how they must change else never win an election again. Personally, I think such dire warnings are just a tad overblown for a number of reasons, but that aside, if the Dems are going to take advice from anyone, I would strongly recommend that they be very selective in lending their ear. The likes of Kristof can safely be ignored.

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