Donald Trump will say anything today and something entirely different tomorrow.
His spoken words are consistent only in their thoughtlessness, recklessness, hollowness, cynicism and contradiction, and in that they evaporate upon release.
He has earned the confidence only of those in his angry outsider base who count on him for a regular pump of adrenaline. Thoughtful words applied to principled problem-solving bore these people.
Trump is the baseball manager who kicks dirt on the umpire to the delight of beer-sodden fans, never mind the score or standings.
Based on his pattern, therefore, Trump does not deserve the trust of any gun-reform advocate in his recent gun-reform posturing.
I believe he is spouting reform because he got the idea from the place he always gets ideas--the cable television screen.
I believe he has staked out positions that either amount to very little or will never become law and which the National Rifle Association has given him leave to advance and agreed to denounce for show.
Trump calls for an improved flow of information into background checks. He does not call for closing the gaping gun-show loophole. And even the simple background-check improvement has run into congressional resistance.
He calls for regulatory banning of bump stocks, which--while horrific devices--aren't firearms.
He has said on one day, but notably not on the next, that he wants to restrict sales of AR-15 semiautomatic weapons to persons 21 and older, in uniformity with federal law on handgun sales. The NRA either pretends to oppose that vigorously--to help Trump create the appearance of standing up to it--or really does hate the prospective sales loss, in which case the proposal will never become law.
Anyway, the proposal is but a pale imitation of the assault weapons ban of the 1990s that was starting to do some good until it was allowed to expire.
Trump brought in governors the other day to talk guns. It had been days since he'd used the White House as a television studio for an ego-feeding performance. The last time was a few weeks ago when he declared that he'd take whatever love-based solution Congress worked out on the Dreamers.
Some say he lied on that. I think that, as always, he simply wanted to hold forth on television and had no idea what he was talking about.
In a spasm of megalomaniacal delusion, Trump told the governors that he would have rushed unarmed into that Florida school to accost that shooter and save those kids.
Brave words delivered days and miles removed are easy compared to getting shot dead.
Had Trump somehow been on that scene, he would have been picked up--feet off the ground--by a couple of back-strained Secret Service agents and thrown combover-first, all supposed 239 pounds of him, into his armored limo, then sped away to the considerable comforts of the world's most luxurious airplane.
This current president--preposterous, Russian-endorsed and second-place--is a more outrageous work of heroic fiction than any comic book ever written.
But there is this: Because he talks so much and so emptily and so contradictorily, it's a simple matter of the odds that, in an accidental moment, he'll utter something true and profound.
Such was the case before the governors when he declared: "Half of you are so afraid of the NRA ... Sometimes we're going to have to be very tough and we're going to have to fight them."
Let me get in a resounding "amen" before those words fade into the oblivion pile where all this president's mouthing winds up.
People say that Republican politicians are beholden to the NRA because of the big money the NRA lathers on them. But that's not so. Lots of other rich people exist to lather big money on tax-cutting Republican politicians.
These Republican politicians are not bought. They're fraidy-cats.
They fear the NRA will lower their grade from an "A" to a "C-plus," and put that grade on a slick mass-mailed report card to the vast NRA memberships in their home districts. They fear that would make them susceptible to defeat for re-election from a primary opponent promising always to be an A-plus student in the permanent classroom of the ever-charming Wayne LaPierre.
Tom Cotton, John Boozman, Steve Womack, Rick Crawford, French Hill, Bruce Westerman and every Republican member of the state Legislature--fraidy-cats, all. And some of the Democrats, too.
And the governor, Asa Hutchinson ... he's already landed that primary opponent, a self-professed Gun Goddess, simply because he dared to differ on the margins with the NRA on the extent of unregulated gun-galore policies.
So, Hutchinson now opposes any age restriction on sales of AR-15s and can suddenly see situations by which it would be fine to arm teachers in the classroom--a proposition he resisted in less-trembling days.
It surely must be embarrassing when a comic book caricature has you pegged.
John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at email@example.com. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.
Editorial on 03/01/2018
Print Headline: Big talk, little import