Despite the snarky headline, I actually kind of like this story of Democratic presidential hopeful Robert Crimthand Domnall-Blathmac Embroidery “Beta” O’Rourke going to an Arkansas gun show to talk gun control.
ASIDE: Don’t worry. I’m not suddenly embracing gun control; I’m re-embracing polite politicking.
Years ago there was an mostly-OK Elliot Gould movie called The Devil And Max Devlin, in which Gould’s recently-deceased title character is given the chance to avoid Hell — if he can serve up three souls to the Devil. Devlin says something like, “I know this mob boss, and a hit man…” But they’re not good enough, because as the Devil said, “I already get them.” So it’s up to Max to corrupt three innocent souls in order to save his own. (It’s a Disney movie — valuable lessons are learned, and everything turns out all right in the end.) Or as my friend and colleague Scott Ott likes to say, if you want to preach sobriety, go to a bar, not to an AA meeting.
So it was with O’Rourke on Saturday, as he paid the $10 admission — just like a regular Joe — to engage gun buyers and sellers in their natural habitat.
The ABC News writeup of O’Rourke’s campaign appearance could have used a little editing by someone who knows something, almost anything, about firearms. Reporter Jeffrey Cook repeated the Left’s false “weapons of war” mantra about semiautomatic weapons, without so much as a set of scare quotes. Cook — still without scare quotes — referred to semiautos as “assault weapons,” even though that’s factually untrue. But his biased, ignorant report did reveal a floundering presidential candidate who has become desperate enough to… wait for it… campaign intelligently.
Before we continue, please don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe for one moment that O’Rourke went to a gun show to actually listen to gun enthusiasts, with a willingness to learn and maybe change his mind. But he also didn’t try to resurrect his flailing candidacy by giving a big speech to a safe audience.
Larry Beaver, an attendee at the show, was engaged by O’Rourke and at the end of their conversation said, “I respect you for talking to me.” And O’Rourke told ABC News that he’d “learned something by listening to [Beaver].” Well, maybe we should just hope that second part is true. But in any case it’s a nice change of pace from what he’d said to supporters two days earlier in El Paso: “Those places where Donald Trump has been terrorizing and terrifying and demeaning our fellow Americans, that’s why you will find me in this campaign.”
It’s a helluva thing to switch gears from “Trump has been terrorizing and terrifying” Americans, to “I’m going to go have a real conversation with those Trump people” in under 48 hours, but that’s politics I guess.
Mostly what you should take away from Beto’s adventure is this: There’s been too little conversation and too much angry lecturing in our politics. While I believe that’s more true of the Left than it is of the Right (Trump won by winning over Rust Belt Obama voters, after all), both sides should and could do better.
So give O’Rourke and his hopeless quest some small bit of credit for engaging in a conversation at a gun show. It won’t reboot his campaign, I doubt it’ll change the hectoring ways of any of the frontrunner Democrats, but for at least this one news aficionado, it was a nice change of pace.