The Obama phenomenon is very much like 1930s Germany all over again. Grand visions have a hypnotic fascination for many dissatisfied people, particularly young and inexperienced ones
By Rick Moran
The primary campaign became something of a Salvador Dali painting this past week as the canvas on which this surreal process has been rendered revealed an image that has lost all touch with reality and descended into a miasmic dreamworld where up is down, black is white, and consequences are divorced from actions - especially in the case of Barack Obama.
Dali once famously said "The difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad." Something similar could be said for the differences between the Obama on the stump and Obama the real person. This became abundantly clear last night when the largest campaign crowd yet - more than 35,000 by most estimates - thronged to the park in front of Independence Hall to hear the probable/potential/possible next President of the United States chant his "hope and change" mantra while totally ignoring the reality of a man whose past associations include an incredible group of hate mongering anti-Americans, racist pastors, crooked "fixers," and "politics as usual" politicians who give the lie to his pretty words and noble sentiments:
"In four days, you get the chance to help bring about the change that we need right now," Obama said. "Here in the city and the state that gave birth to our democracy, we can declare our independence from the politics that's shut us out, let us down, and told us to settle."
And he blasted Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, his rival for the party's nomination, even as he called her "a tenacious opponent and a committed public servant." She is the front-runner in Pennsylvania, as Obama acknowledged last night, even though he leads her nationally. "She's taken different positions at different times on issues as fundamental as trade and even war to suit the politics of the moment," Obama said. "And in the last few months, she's launched what her campaign calls a `kitchen sink' strategy of negative attacks, which she defends by telling us that this is what the Republicans would do."
The crowd - the estimate of 35,000 came from officials at the Independence Visitors Center - began assembling early, filling Independence Mall and spilling into the surrounding streets. They waited with relative patience, chanting "O-ba-ma" whenever the music stopped, until 8:45, when the rally finally started. They gave him a thunderous greeting and cheered often throughout a speech that was crafted with the setting in mind.
That's only the half of it. Marc Ambinder reports on what happened after the rally was over:
It wasn't so much that Barack Obama had real fight in him tonight, or that more people attended his rally in front of Independence Hall than any other event since he announced his candidacy. It was the spontaneous demonstration of support that happened when it ended.
5,000 people (at least) had nowhere to go but up Market Street. Obama's charge of the night: "Declare independence!" was with them. They started with the familiar "O-Bam-A." By 7th and Market, they had graduated to "Yes we can!" By 10th and Market, with hundreds streaming in between cars on the road, they were just cheering. At first, a few Philly cops, killjoys, tried to rough the crowd to the sidewalks. It didn't work. The cops retreated to the sidewalks. By the time I ducked into my hotel, a full mile away from Independence Park, the Obama crowd was still marching.
Have we become so cynical that despite all the evidence to the contrary - his lack of any track record in effecting change (even eschewing opportunities to do so when the presented themselves), his accepting help from politicians who practice the very kind of politics he rails against, his association with people who have no desire to "unite" the country, only tear it down - that so many would become besotted with "Obamamania" that they deliberately look the other way at this hypocrisy coming from their candidate?
This disconnect became all too visible the last few days as left wing blogs supporting Obama were beside themselves over the efforts by ABC debate moderators Charlie Gibson and George Stephenopolous to pull back the curtain and reveal Obama as the hypocrite he truly is. Their primary beef with ABC? The moderators asked questions the candidate didn't want to answer and his supporters didn't want to hear. As long as the press coverage limits itself to the "issues," only the Obama on the stump will be highlighted. As long as the press reports on the incredible crowds, the adoring fans, the candidate's rhetorical gifts (not "issues" in any sense of the word but hey! - no one ever accused the left of being consistent about anything), Obama's Legions are satisfied.
But let the press actually do their jobs and ask the candidate why he is on a first name basis with someone who is "proud" he tried to blow up the Pentagon and the crap hits the fan in Obamaland. Any attempt to reveal the life Obama has led outside of politics isn't relevant. Not because it has nothing to do with why someone would cast their vote for their candidate - an incredibly stupid assumption that bespeaks an ignorance of why people vote - but simply because they don't want to know and more importantly, they don't want the rest of us to know. The candidate himself pushes this idea that the press should only ask questions he wants to answer in North Carolina on Thursday:
With a voice dripping with sarcasm, Barack Obama offered a eulogy yesterday from Raleigh, N.C. "I will tell you [the campaign] does not get more fun than these debates," he said. "They are inspiring debates. I think last night we set a new record [note to the wordsmith: all records are new when set] because it took us 45 minutes before we even started talking about a single issue that matters most to the American people. It took us 45 minutes - 45 minutes before we [were allowed to regurgitate what we've been saying for months] about health care, 45 minutes before we [got to repeat everything we've been saying for months] about Iraq, 45 minutes before we heard [a reprise of the tedious argle-bargle] about jobs, 45 minutes before we [got to harangue everybody for the 12th time] about [how we can't do anything about] the price of gasoline."
Indeed, Wes Pruden is on to something here. Any discussion of "issues" at this late date in the campaign would have put people to sleep. Now ABC, as you might have guessed, is a for-profit outfit that was horrified at the thought that people might find the candidates' spouting for the umpteenth time their bullet points about Iraq, health care, jobs, and the price of gasoline so intensely boring that they would flip over to watch a playoff hockey game or perhaps "Deal or no Deal." Better to make both Hillary and Obama squirm a little by having to answer questions that inquiring minds want to know - like why did you allow a self confessed, unapologetic terrorist hold a fundraiser at his house for you Senator Obama?
Obama's answer has been recycled time and time again, given when he has been confronted with questions about Wright, Rezko, Daley, Jones, and all the other personalities from Obama's real life away from the stump that define who he is as a man and not the messianic candidate on the stump who promises so ardently to change things:
Sen. Obama was briefly put on the spot with a question about still another of his shady friends in Chicago, but he was allowed to dance away without the obvious follow-up. What was the extent of his friendship with Bill Ayers, an ex-con and unrepentant member of a ring of cop-killers from the `60s? This could have been a fastball but was only a floater, and the Illinois Kid sent it back sharply for a Texas Leaguer. "The notion that somehow, as a consequence of me knowing someone in detestable acts 40 years ago when I was 8 years old, that somehow that reflects on my values, is crazy."
But that's not quite the point of the question. The senator knew that Bill Ayers was more than "just a guy who lives in my neighborhood" and was once a member of the Weathermen when they served together on the board of the Woods Fund, a small but radical Chicago foundation of suspicious provenance. At the behest of the unrepentant Bill Ayers - who boasts that he and his wife Bernadine Dohrn, who both served time after years on the run, didn't do enough to plant bombs to kill innocents when they had the chance - the foundation awarded $6,000 to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's Trinity United Church "in recognition of Barack Obama's contributions." Messrs. Obama and Ayers voted to award a generous grant to the Arab-American Action Network, to finance "actions" (not otherwise specified).
Obama's catch-all excuse for the Wrights, Ayers, Rezkos, Auchis, Daleys, and other less than stellar characters in his past is the same for each; everyone has a Wright/Ayers/Rezko/Auchi/Daley et. al. in their past so what's the big deal? Wright is everyone's "crazy uncle." Ayers is just some guy who "lives in the neighborhood." Rezko is "one of thousands of contributors" to his campaign. In each case, Obama tries to portray himself as everyman, asking his supporters (who don't need much urging) to imagine all the characters from their past who are less than upstanding. My friend Shaun Mullen does the same thing:
I'll get this turdball rolling by noting that I knew several members of the Weather Underground back in the day and am a longtime friend of one whom I invited into my home when he was a fugitive. But even in the context of those crazy times, the Weathermen were a bunch of zonked-out wannabe revolutionaries who ultimately diverted attention from their occasionally worthy causes by doing a lot of really bad stuff.
All that so noted, I had a hard time getting behind President Clinton's pardon of two members of the Weather Underground for some very serious criminal acts on the eve of George Bush's 2001 inauguration but have a whole lot less of a problem with Bill Ayers, a former but never arrested Weatherman and present-day University of Illinois professor who hosted a fundraiser in his home for Barack Obama when the presidential candidate was running for the Illinois Senate.
Allow me to channel Salvadore Dali; "The difference between Barack Obama and Shaun Mullen is that Shaun is not Barack Obama." Shaun is not running for president. Shaun does not get up in front of 35,000 people and say he is better than every other politician out there because by jing, he's for a "new" kind of politics while they aren't. Shaun does not lie through his teeth about the nature and extent of his past associations.
The band plays on, ignoring the discordant chords coming from outside the bandshell because that would disturb their ideal of perfect harmony, perfect syncopation, perfect togetherness. For most of Obama's supporters, tuning out the sour notes is easy. They hear what they want to hear - Obama on the stump - and ignore the music being made by the candidate in his real life - complete with beautiful melodies as well as dark, minor key atonal counterpoints that for many of us has begun to dominate our opinion of the candidate. Will they ever gather the courage to hear the entire composition?
Another one of Obama's fine friends
Obama Tech Advisor Introduces Video of Gay, Singing Jesus Who Gets Hit by a Bus
Erick Erickson over at RedState tells us all of an anti-Christian video recently introduced with great frivolity by Internet philosopher and Obama technology advisor Larry Lessig. The video introduced at a Google Author series seminar shows Jesus singing the Gloria Gaynor tune "I Will Survive" in a very effeminate, theatrical way. As the song ramps up, Jesus throws off his robe and strips down to a diaper-like covering, then he sashays through a modern city until he gets hit by a bus in an intersection.
The worst thing about this is that this is also another scandal involving a Barack Obama campaign associate showing his disdain for the American mainstream, this time a disdain of Christianity. It turns out that Lessig is a somewhat secretive Obama campaign advisor, serving to assist the campaign on Internet and technology policies. As Erickson points out, Lessig hosts Obama's tech policy on his own lessig.org website.
At the conference, the Google employees can be heard laughing and enjoying the show. The clip ends with Lessig claiming that we shouldn't worry because a sequel shows that Jesus survives being run over by the bus. How comforting, eh?
Again, as Erickson points out, "Barack Obama's campaign has regularly cited Lessig as a key supporter on technology issues (see here too) and made sure Lessig was quoted when listing Obama's technology endorsers."
Aside from his attacks on Jesus, Lessig is also an advocate of the concept of digital communism, a belief that there should be no such thing as intellectual property rights, that all creations of art or technology should be free for the taking.
So, what we have here is another close Obama supporter and advisor that seems to hate the things that the average American holds dear. The list of America hating Obama associates is getting longer every day, and now we can add a Christian hating, communist to that list.
It's really hard to believe that any real American can support a man for president of the United States of America who surrounds himself with people who so hate this country and all it stands for.
The Struggling Obamas
The Obama "poverty" lie again
Today's Chicago Tribune carries a frontpage article titled, "Michelle Obama's mission: Show voters humble roots." Mrs. Obama's recollections of how she and her husband not so long ago were deluged with bills and calls from collection agencies have become a major component of the campaign, designed to demonstrate that Senator Barack Obama understands financial difficulties and the folks encountering them. He feels their pain. The article reports that Barack Obama "by all accounts, rose from humble beginnings and isn't that far removed from financial hardship in his own life."
But who's providing all those accounts on which the Tribune relies? The tenth paragraph, buried on page 23, notes that Mrs. Obama "doesn't come with documentation to back up her story about financial hardship. Asked to provide evidence of the Obamas' recent debt or contact from bill collectors, a campaign aide said the family was trying to find the records in response to a Tribune request last week but could not do so immediately."
It may take a while. To his credit, Senator Obama released his tax returns going back to the year 2000. On their joint 2000 return, the Obamas reported an adjusted gross income of more than $240,000. Their following year's AGI was over $270,000. In the past eight years, the Obama's worst was in 2004, when their AGI was a pitiful $207,000. Thank goodness for that wonderful child care tax credit, which the Obamas routinely took.
So here's a couple making over $200,000 annually and in most years quite a lot more. Yet they still had to sweat opening the mail and were plagued by calls from collection agencies. It's little wonder that it was only recently that Michelle (finally!) was proud to be an American.
In the meantime, I know we can depend on the Chicago Tribune and other mainstream media outlets to confirm all those accounts proving that the Family Obama actually experienced the difficult challenges they're now claiming.
Obama's rude gesture
Thanks to American Thinker's Rick Moran and his analysis of a video from an LA Times blog, even better displayed in another camera angle posted by the Baltimore Sun, it's clear that Senator Obama delivered a common obscene gesture in Senator Clinton's direction as he spoke to a crowd of his loyal followers in North Carolina the day after the Philadelphia debate. He shot Hillary the bird, only slightly surreptitiously. Visit the links above to see it happen.
Obama's explanation of how the debate questions represented "Washington" playing "gotcha politics" is telling by itself. Whining does not become anyone who aspires to be the President of the United States of America, as Obama likes to voice the complete title of the job he wants. And his assurances that he was unfazed by the perceived attacks he received from the ABC moderators resemble the braggadocio of the boxer who climbs up from the canvas on a nine count, nose bleeding with one eye swollen shut, saying "Hey, he never laid a glove on me." We could read Obama's body language in the debate. We saw him take heavy leather. So what is this video all about, and what does it tell us about Barack Obama?
At its basest level, it displays his immaturity. Why in the world would a U.S. Senator use an obscene gesture to send a marginally subtle message to his inter-party opponent in a nomination campaign? That's just not smart. He will, if challenged on it, deliver an incredible denial alleging that such an interpretation is itself another effort of gotcha politics. But that will hang by a shred of cloth, at most. Only children below middle school (hopefully) and the visually impaired can miss his intention. This is the act of one who would be President that displays a remarkable level of immaturity.
It was also act of arrogance. As Forest Gump would say, "Arrogance is as arrogance does." This was Obama arrogance on display. His followers saw it, too, and they cheered. That is nearly as disturbing. This guy is not running for a seat on the City Council of a small town. In mine, and most small towns, giving the bird to an opponent would seal defeat in a close election. The obvious fact that his followers liked what he did, and that he enjoyed them liking it, should give us sober pause. Collectively, those in that audience also lack humility.
It was an act of self-defeating stupidity for a politician at his level. If you're a Hillary Clinton supporter and you see this, what impact does it have on you? The best coached athletic teams will not run up the score on their opponents at the end of the game when they're ahead. Why? Two reasons: they respect their opponent, and they know a humiliated opponent will be motivated to seek revenge. In a voting public evenly divided between the two major political parties, Obama as the nominee will need support from all of Hillary's backers. If you're one of them, will you forget the "finger" moment? Not likely. His was the behavior of a divider, not the uniter he claims to be.
Lastly, it was an act of someone who is being seduced by the adulation of those he has seduced. The questions he objects to pertain to his character. We care more about that, as Americans, than the inside-the-Beltway wonkishness of programs and policies that he says we want to hear about. The literate among us have gotten those points already, thank you. Besides, most of what candidates promise never see reality after they get elected anyway. After a point reached relatively soon, we're more interested in knowing the person than their platform.
Obama has been lulled into a sense of invincibility by his cheering, fainting, fawning crowds. Until the CBS debate, that adulation was being propelled by the MSM. But for some reason, Charlie and George decided to join Tim's brief moment in that shining light of the journalistic maturity he displayed in a previous debate, and they actually asked tough questions! It shocked us. But Obama - he was offended. This is the same man who wants to sit down with our adversaries and reason with them?
Here are things Obama clearly does not know. Never ridicule your opponent -- not before, during or after the contest. Never assume the contest if over until there is absolutely no possible way for your opponent to take the lead in the remaining time. If you win, treat the defeated with utmost respect, regardless of how well they played the game. Perhaps this is old fashioned sportsmanship in the era of ball spikes and trash talk. But it did govern the way we dealt with the losers of World War II and it worked well in that venue. It works in politics, too. By his offensive behavior toward Hillary Clinton, Obama offended her followers. That's not good for him.
Obama easily walked into the U.S. Senate after his opponent was sabotaged by an angry ex-wife who destroyed his political career by getting sexually bizarre sealed court records re-opened. Obama's eleventh hour opponent, Alan Keyes, is an articulate and honorable man who never had a prayer of winning that election. Keyes was political cannon fodder. Consequently, Obama is in the first real fist fight of his short political career and he's getting arrogant because he's betting the former First Lady of an impeached President. He should be on guard. Pride goeth before the fall.
President Obama and a Nuclear Iran
Assume for a moment: It's January, 2009, and Barack Obama has just been inaugurated as President of the United States. Ahmadi-Nejad explodes his first Bomb; he now has that itchy finger on the button as long as the mullahs stay in power. The Middle East goes wild --- with abject fear among the Saudis, and loud celebrations among terror supporters. The day of revenge against the Jews and the Crusaders has finally arrived. What would President Obama do? He has only two basic options.
Stick with his electoral promises, fly to Tehran, and "talk to the mullahs." What will the mullahs wish to talk about, after talking up the glory of martyrdom warfare for thirty years? For three decades the daily chant was "Death to America! Death to Israel!" The Left is sure the Khomeini cultists can't possibly mean that. But now they are faced with a 15-minute warning time if the mullahs do mean what they've been telling us since 1979.
Maybe the mullahs will ask President Obama how high the US will jump? How quickly will the Saudi royals get out of Arabia and give it to the Khomeini cult, which is convinced that it has the historic right to the two holy cities of Mohammed? How long until the price of oil doubles? And, Mr. President, you get those US Navy ships out of the Gulf of Imam Khomeini, right now. Or else we will swarm your Navy ships with fleets of gunboats and see who blinks first. Martyrdom is glorious.
Call Option One the Jimmy Carter option. With Carter's advisor Zbig Brzezinski back in favor, President Obama will be hearing a lot about that one.
If you think the price of oil is high today, wait 'til the Middle East catches fire. The Caliphate of Iran wants every other nation to "bow down to the greatness of Iran," as Ahmadi-Nejad likes to put it. With a Bomb, they can sway the OPEC monopoly. Would the Saudis resist Iranian pressure, 50 miles from their shore? Europe will try to feed the hungry crocodile lots of goodies, hoping it will eat them last. But Israel may not be inclined to become croc food, and they have an estimated 200 nukes. Thirty years ago Prime Minister Golda Meir was prepared to use them as a last resort. With their backs against the wall, they may have no choice. So Option One means trouble.
The Saudis don't have nuclear weapons (yet), but they can buy them from Pakistan. If they are afraid of Iran's itchy finger, they will, and who can blame them? Arab and Sunni pride will demand a Bomb for Egypt and Syria. If everybody else can have one, why not Libya again? If the US is not willing to protect Arab nations against Iranian aggression, they will find a more bloody-minded protector like Russia. Vladimir Putin will be happy to oblige, for a price. So let's hope your advisors have read up on the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1964, Mr. President, because soon we're going to see it again.
Flip the bird to your lifelong friends on the Left and reverse all their foreign policy ideas. Send several battle groups within striking distance of Tehran. Beef up our forces next door, in Iraq, the Gulf and Afghanistan. Get serious with the Russians to pull their engineers out of Iranian nuclear plants. Block North Korean help for A'jad's Bomb. Stop German companies like Siemens from selling advanced electronic gear to the mullahs. Turn Syria around, to isolate Iran's proxy armies in Lebanon and Gaza. Mount more state-of-the-art missile defenses on Aegis war ships --- we have 82 of them, a formidable world-wide missile defense if we ever decide to use them. Finally, build up US troop numbers. And then let the New York Times go into hysterics.
Call Option Two the "George W. Bush strategy." Or if you don't like that, it also happens to be the Wilson-FDR-JFK-LBJ-Truman strategy. It used to be standard Democrat foreign policy, before the Dems turned hard left after 1968.
So which one -- the Carter Option or the W Option -- do you think President Obama will choose? With Iran pointing a loaded gun at the world, and thousands of Basiji marching in the streets, all praying to become martyrs, there is not much ground for coming together and finding hope. Presidents have to make real decisions with real consequences. So far, Obama hasn't shown any willingness to make hard choices, even in his political campaigns. He wants to be the messiah, but without renouncing bad characters like Rezko or Wright or Ayers. Like Bill Clinton, he's great at having his cake and eating it, too.
Since the Left has been completely wrong about foreign policy since Jimmy Carter, they are very poorly equipped even to think about an Iranian Bomb. That's why they keep denying that there's any real problem with nuke proliferation. And yet it's rushing straight at us, like that roaring locomotive in the tunnel.
I'm just curious. Charles Krauthammer just pointed out that the Left has made it impossible to act preemptively against rogues with nukes. When Iran explodes its Bomb, will the Left apologize for being wrong about national security for decades? Will the CIA apologize for its wretched failures, one after the other, to warn about life-threatening dangers? I don't go around the world asking for apologies, but the Left does. Thank you, Democrats. Thank you, Europeans. And let's not forget the corrupt and incompetent UN and our friends in the Leftist media. We are now standing at the precipice, and we have you to thank for it.
So if A'jad gets his Bomb next year or thereafter, will you apologize for crucifying George W. Bush, who was foolish enough to think that Saddam Hussein might be developing nukes, too? Will the Left admit its suicidal foolhardiness in sabotaging anti-missile defenses for the last thirty years? For blocking anti-proliferation efforts in the "international community"? And for trashing anyone who saw reality and told the truth?
You know the answer. The Left is never wrong. We won't ask you to apologize for being wrong, Mr. or Mrs. President. Just recognize reality, please, and be ready to live with all the bad choices that are left. Or you can try sending Madeleine Albright to waltz with Ahmadi-Nejad. Look how well that worked with Kim Jong-Il.
Gun issue bad for Obama
Pennsylvania sportsmen aren't "bitter" about their guns and balk at what they call Sen. Barack Obama's double-talk in courting their support. In a state that boasts one of the country's highest per capita rates of membership in the National Rifle Association (NRA), Mr. Obama's stance that Second Amendment gun rights are compatible with new tough gun laws falls flat. And it didn't help when he said the state's "bitter" small-town voters hurt by the economy were not supporting him because they "cling" to religion, guns and anti-immigrant views.
"It just tells me he is anti-gun," said Debbie Schultz, owner of Schultz's Sportsmens Stop in Apollo, Pa., about 40 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. "We don't need more gun laws and we don't need tougher gun laws, the ones we've got are pretty stringent," said Mrs. Schultz, 53, who has been selling sporting and target firearms for 39 years. "You can't keep a thug from getting a gun [unless] you try to take all the guns from every gun owner and that will never happen in the United States."
Rocco S. Ali, president of the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, said the two viewpoints embraced by Mr. Obama are incompatible. "He's tried to satisfy both sides [but] they don't go together," said Mr. Ali, whose organization represents about 95,000 hunters and outdoorsmen in more than 350 clubs. He said Mr. Obama's pledge to go after "straw purchasers" who dump guns in crime-plagued urban neighborhoods is a pretext for new restrictions that make it harder for everyone to buy firearms. Existing federal and state laws, he said, authorize law-enforcement agencies to investigate any firearm purchase.
Both Mr. Obama and his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, have shied from riling gun owners on the campaign trail, especially in this divergent state where inner city politicians' desire for stricter gun rules clash with its hunting history. Neither has taken a position on the historic case before the U.S. Supreme Court over whether the District's ban on handguns violates the Constitution's Second Amendment. The court, taking up the Second Amendment "right to keep and bear arms" for the first time in 69 years, is expected to rule in June.
Likewise, the two candidates did not sign a bipartisan amicus curiae brief filed in the Supreme Court that supported the amendment's guarantee of individual gun rights and opposed the District's law. The "friend of the court" brief was signed by 250 House members and 55 senators, including presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain. And both Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton, despite talking up her support of gun rights, say they would reinstate the assault-weapon ban, which the Republican-led Congress allowed to expired in 2004.
"They think they can disguise their real position," NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said of the Democratic contenders. "The campaign rhetoric doesn't match [Mr. Obama's] voting record at all. ... He's not pro-Second Amendment." The NRA gave an "F" grade to Mr. Obama's and Mrs. Clinton's voting records, which include votes to ban certain types of ammunition and to make firearm manufactures liable for gun violence. Mr. McCain got a "C."
Although Mr. McCain has a strong gun rights voting record, he supports campaign-finance laws that limit political advocacy by issue groups, such as the NRA, and supports tighter firearms sales regulations at gun shows.
The gun issue regained prominence following Mr. Obama's "bitter" comment at a private fundraiser in San Francisco. Criticized for his elitist tone, Mr. Obama apologized for offending gun owners and churchgoers but said people are frustrated with Washington and seek reassurance in these traditions....
In a debate here Wednesday, Mr. Obama pledged to "bridge this divide [between gun rights and gun control laws], which I think has been polarizing and, frankly, doesn't reflect the common sense of the American people." Earlier this week, he told newspaper executives at the Associated Press annual luncheon in Washington that respecting "deeply held traditions" of gun ownership in rural America didn't preclude strict laws to keep handguns out of embattled cities.
Mr. Obama said the country must "acknowledge the importance of gun ownership in huge swaths of the country and recognize the Second Amendment actually means something," and also "recognize that for us to put in place strong, tough background checks, to close the gun-show loophole, to be able to trace guns that have been used in crimes to the gun dealers who sold those guns to see if they're abiding by the law, making sure that they're not working with straw purchasers to dump illegal handguns into vulnerable communities - that those two visions are compatible, that they're not contradictory."
The Obama campaign the next day touted an endorsement by the American Hunters and Shooters Association (AHSA), a national group that promotes some new gun control measures and describes itself as an alternative to the NRA's "radical" gun rights views. Critics say the group is a front for the gun control lobby because it promotes outlawing some caliber of guns and certain types of ammunition and the abolition of firearm sales at gun shows...
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