Another collision of political exploitation and hypocrisy occurred this past week. They happen regularly, are frequently funny and almost always pathetic.
U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., personified that dubious tradition with his demand that pending immigration reform legislation not be “exploited” by concerns over the Boston Marathon bombing. More on that in a moment.
At one level, this is just business as usual. Politicians are by nature hypocritical – they don’t consider it a flaw, but more of a survival technique. If someone from an opposing party or group does or says something wrong, they are filled with vocal outrage. If they, or someone from their party does the same thing, they are either silent, defend it, excuse it or explain it away.
Politicians also politicize everything; it’s in their DNA. It’s what they are, not just what they do.
So when the two collide, it is not unusual, but still entertaining.
Following the Boston bombings, which the FBI says were committed by two ethnic Chechen immigrants, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., argued that “important national security questions” should be addressed before Congress enacts immigration legislation.
Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, promptly accused Paul and others of exploiting the tragedy to delay the bill.
“Let no one be so cruel as to try to use the heinous acts of two young men last week to derail the dreams and futures of millions of hardworking people,” he snarled.
Oh, the horror. What a finely tuned moral compass. It’s just that Leahy’s indignation about this issue seems to have blinded him to the almost nonstop exploitation by President Obama of last December’s heinous shootings in Newtown, Conn., committed by the mentally deranged Adam Lanza.
We have not heard a peep out of Leahy while his party’s leader, in pursuit of his gun-control agenda, has brought exploitation of tragedy to a new low.
Obama has been flying the grief-stricken parents of the children who were killed around the country in Air Force One to serve as props for his demand that the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens be curtailed. He has never even tried to explain how his proposals would have prevented the Newtown tragedy or any number of other mass shootings – his posturing has been designed only to imply that anybody who disagrees with him is in favor of more dead “precious” children.
When an insufficient number of senators – including four Democrats – did not submit to his guilt trip, he accused his opponents of “lying” about the legislation. Which is interesting, because the president has been doing some lying of his own. He has declared more than once that an assault rifle has “one purpose” – to shoot as many bullets as quickly as possible. That is false. It is machine guns, not assault rifles, that are designed to shoot as many bullets as fast as possible.
Was he lying or just ignorant? I’ll go with the former – the president is not dumb.
What is most sad about all this is that the president’s professed concern about these parents will end as soon as they are no longer useful to him. Do you think he’s going to keep flying them around on his jet once the gun-control campaign is over?
His backers insist that all this is perfectly appropriate; that the president is only illustrating the “human cost” of bad, “unnecessary” guns.
I wonder what they would say if a president surrounded himself with victims of violence committed by illegal immigrants in a campaign to have all, otherwise law-abiding, illegals deported? I wonder what they would say of a president who, in an effort to put “reasonable restrictions” on abortion, showed photos of the babies born alive during abortion procedures conducted by Dr. Kermit Gosnell – now on trial for murder – who were then killed by having their spinal cords cut.
Actually, I don’t wonder. I know what they would say. Such acts would be loudly condemned as obscene exploitation of tragedies precipitated by a few sick individuals.
Leahy, who has been in the U.S. Senate for a very long time, ought to know that politicizing is what politicians do. If he has a problem with it, he needs to retire, or at a minimum start snarling about it when his own party does it as well.
Finally, there is the exploitation of the political insult of “cowardice,” the label the president and his sycophants apply to everybody who didn’t support their legislation – that they are afraid of the National Rifle Association.
This is bunk. We don’t even need to mention how many liberal members of Congress are terrified of the gay lobby, the abortion lobby, the environmental lobby and various other “progressive” groups. If those who voted against Obama’s gun control legislation were afraid of anyone, it was their own constituents – with good reason. In their states, a vote for more gun control might be a return ticket to the private sector.
But in the Washington bubble, they are the ones who displayed some political courage, because they knew they would be vilified by the president, his backers and the mainstream media.
The president can try to argue on the merits that they are misguided or wrong. But they are anything but cowards.
Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org