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Moderation in Va. Senate race will advance special interests, not principles

Is Ed Gillespie prepared to keep NRA's promises?  And what will his -- and NRA's -- lack of resolve on amnesty mean for them a few years from now?
Is Ed Gillespie prepared to keep NRA's promises? And what will his -- and NRA's -- lack of resolve on amnesty mean for them a few years from now?
National Rifle Association

“Will NRA ads in Virginia’s U.S. Senate race help or hurt Ed Gillespie?” an “analysis” in The Washington Post presented as straight news, rather than manipulation, asks.

“In addition to airing TV ads in several states, the NRA blanketed its home state — the group’s headquarters is in Fairfax County — with direct-mail material touting Republican Ed Gillespie, the former lobbyist who is running against Sen. Mark R. Warner (D),” the “report” explains. “Gillespie, the mailer says, is the antidote to the ‘Obama/Bloomberg gun control agenda.’ And more are expected.”

The problem, per The Post, is that running on something as mundane as principles will turn off “moderate” voters, so a Republican who hopes to gain office will need instead to run to the left. So why wouldn’t we accept that they’re promulgating such “common knowledge” beliefs in the spirit of what’s best for all? Aside from maybe their Obama endorsement...? And it couldn’t be that results cited from their own poll have been influenced in any way by WaPo’s “progressive reporting” and editorializing on guns?

Thing is, if the object is to appear “moderate” on guns, Warner already has that market cornered. Time was, and not that long ago, NRA gave him an “A” rating. How it would benefit Gillespie to challenge him on who can undermine former supporters the most is unclear, although Warner’s actions do corroborate arguments this column has long made about the sustained reliability of so-called “pro-gun Democrats” that Fairfax seems so enamored with, despite their members continually getting betrayed.

The thing is, Republican Gillespie isn’t exactly a shoo-in with hard core gun rights advocates, either, no matter what the mailer says. We’ve been burned badly on those before, and the adage “Fool me twice, shame on me” comes to mind. In this case, there’s reason to proceed with caution.

“I know Gillespie and I will not support him or vote for him,” a frequent correspondent active in Virginia Second Amendment promotion and support told me. Part of that may be due to Gillespie’s refusal to personally commit to the issue, as illustrated by his failure to return a Virginia Citizens Defense League Candidate Survey. Part of it may be due to his consummate insider loyalties to the GOP establishment as a former Bush White House staffer and head of the RNC. Part of it may be that he established a “bipartisan” lobbying firm with a Democrat partner, and a former White House Counsel to Bill Clinton at that. And the big part is that there was a better candidate that the establishment did not want..

Another survey Gillespie failed to answer is the one on immigration put out by Numbers USA, where he rates “indecisive” on the question of amnesty for illegal aliens, an issue only Gun Owners of America has taken the lead on, taking no small amount of “progressive” flak and false conservative denial for their warning. Transmute them into millions more Democrat voters, a right Obama’s Homeland Security Secretary insists they have “earned,” and all those reasons NRA gives for supporting Gillespie will be moot points in a decade or two anyway, no matter how much “legitimate news media” would try to convince you otherwise.

One need only look to California to see the political shape of things to come, and according to those doing the shaping, we need to “get prepared,” because fundamental transformation will be coming to a neighborhood near you sooner rather than later.

NRA’s refusal to acknowledge the issue, using a hollow “single issue” excuse, is fairly obvious. They value the connections from the Grover Norquist wing of their board more than the rantings of a handful of online activists their apologists can dismiss as disgruntled “NRA bashers.” It’s still shameful, and history will bear that out, not that it will bring much satisfaction to claim “We told you so.”

Still, the perfect is the enemy of the good, some will insist, as if staying in the pot while it heats slowly is preferable to jumping out due to sudden, perilous alarm. Politics is the art of the possible, others will counsel, never pushing the boundaries of possibilities themselves.

I don’t suppose espousing principles and showing leadership to an electorate and educating them on what they’re being defrauded on is an option among the politically pragmatic, who prefer noncommittal platitude sound bites over substance. That may be so, but the “safe” approach does not give the inspiration a team needs to win a championship game. It’s not enough to hold noses and vote for the perceived lesser of two evils. Supporters need to be not just willing, but enthusiastic about giving it their all for a campaign, working, spreading the word, and importantly, donating.

Especially when it’s a close race.

With Gillespie, the best answer to Hillary Clinton’s notorious “What difference does it make?” query is probably to confirm judicial nominees, particularly for the Supreme Court, but at best that’s a crapshoot when “moderate” Republicans are involved.

The Virginia campaign is hardly fire-in-the-belly stuff, particularly if Gillespie allows “progressive” manipulators to steer him toward what they would have everyone believe is “the center.” Perhaps that’s why, as Politico notes, “In every single one of the ... toss-up states ... the Republican Senate candidate has not yet opened up a real polling lead in any of them. Democratic nominees have been running hard and staying slightly ahead, or close to, their Republican foes.”

With the way establishment Republicans -- the ones Gillespie owes his real loyalties to -- wage harder and more vicious war on conservatives than they do on Democrats, and with the way they continually offer us non-choices like Dole, McCain and Romney in the past, or Graham, Cochran and Sullivan in the present, it’s tough to argue with Carroll Quigley’s cynical admission about the perpetual con game Americans in general and gun owners in particular keep falling for.

UPDATE: And if "Giopi," the elephant game, doesn't convince you that Republicans are serious about recapturing the Senate by addressing fundamentals important to you and to the upholding of the Constitution, nothing will.

Good grief.


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