Back in 2001 following the horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush, in greasing up his and Dick Cheney's war machine, declared to other nations that "You're either with us or against us." In the wake of another historic murderous rampage, the Newtown, Conn. school massacre, President Obama and Democrats would be wise to frame the gun control debate in a similar fashion: "You're either protecting children or you're not."
Newtown, the sleepy little burg an hour north of Manhattan that will never be the same, has been burying dead children and adults all week. Twenty-seven victims in total who died a horribly brutal death at the hands of a demonic monster with a Bushmaster AR-15 assault weapon. And following the bloodshed Republicans have been throwing up all sorts of diversions and excuses in the hope that they, fearing the NRA and its 4 million weapons-obsessed members, can once again duck and hide from the subject of an assault weapons ban and stricter overall gun regulations. "Now is not the time," they say, to discuss such legislation. Stricter gun laws "won't stop crime" they claim. "It's time to mourn, not argue," they disingenuously suggest.
On MSNBC's Morning Joe Friday the convoluted rhetoric soared to new heights as Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) accused those seeking stricter gun laws as politicizing the shootings. Like most in his caucus who refuse to budge on the issue of assault weapons, Huelskamp then pointed instead to violent video games and the need for more "parental control" despite the fact that statistics disprove any direct correlation between gun violence and computer gaming.
An incensed Joe Scarborough, the show's conservative co-host who's lately been an outspoken proponent of gun control measures, snapped back: "Do you dare come on my show and say I am using the slaughter of twenty little 6 and 7-year-old children...for political purposes?" Scarborough also accused Huelskamp of political double-talk by saying discussion of gun control is politicizing the tragedy while talking about video games is not.
Even after last week's unfathomable violence, Huelskamp had the audacity and temerity to declare "It's not a gun problem, it's a people problem." But guess what? Take away the shooter's Bushmaster and give him a knife instead and we'd likely have one or two funerals at most, not twenty-six. That's not a gun problem?
It's time for Obama and Democrats to get smart and crafty, pinning against the wall the backs of Huelskamp and those ignorant, intransigent buffoons like him. In galvanizing support for an assault weapons ban and tighter gun laws they must make this debate all about the children. "A vote against a ban is a vote against children," is what the main talking point should be. And it should be repeated ad nauseam. It should be what "death panels" was to Republicans.
I believe we're at a critical tipping point. The sickening horror of the Newtown massacre has touched an empathetic nerve in all Americans, regardless of their political affiliation. Most of us are parents and grandparents, and the thought of sending our children off to kindergarten only to be slaughtered like animals by a ravenous diabolical maniac is beyond comprehension.
Conservative politicians don't want to think of little children's bullet-riddled bodies lying dead in blood-soaked classrooms. And at the end of the day I suspect few of them will want to be linked to this sort of carnage by their own unyielding inaction. That's why Obama and Democrats must inextricably connect the two at every turn. They have to guilt and shame Republicans into finally challenging them to cut ties with the NRA which, as its leadership continues to demonstrate, is woefully out of touch with the realities of modern days violence. This must be done all in the name of protecting children and working to save their lives. "You're either with the kids or you're against them..."