As debate about how to deal with the big issues heats up and the election season draws ever closer (sigh), political rhetoric can get…interesting. The media and all right thinking thinkers are quick to express their shock and outrage whenever anyone to the right of Joe Lieberman utters anything that isn’t as bland as a jar of Miracle Whip. Dick Cheney tells Pat Leahy to go f*ck himself and you’d think Burkina Faso had sunk an Enterprise class carrier and declared war on the U.S. Well, it’s happened again. Prepare to de-wad your panties…
Tom Coburn, Senator from Oklahoma, was back home touring the state, pressing the flesh and letting everyone within earshot know he’s not happy with a lot of his fellow members in the world’s greatest deliberative body.
Coburn…ripped his colleagues during a tour of northeast Oklahoma, calling them “career elitists,” “cowards” and said, “It’s just a good thing I can’t pack a gun on the Senate floor.”
Quick. Hide the women and children. Cover your grandmother’s ears. This is just beyond the pale. The Politico’s slant on the incident is pretty much what you’d expect.
Coburn’s gun-on-the-floor comment comes less than a month after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) made a triumphant return to the Capitol and the House floor following an assassination attempt in January outside a Tucson supermarket.
At the time of the shooting, in which six people were killed, there were calls for re-instituting the federal ban on high-capacity ammunition clips and beefing up protection for members of Congress. None of the proposals gained significant traction since.
A cynic might say that Coburn uttered the incendiary comment to deflect heat from Texas Governor and presidential candidate Rick Perry who also torqued the media’s Jockeys this week with a comment about Fed chief Ben Bernanke. I’m glad I’m not that cynical.
Those on the right have always been held to a different standard. A chorus comprised of the MSM and Democrats opportunistically harmonized their reaction to the Giffords shooting, attributing it to a mythical poisonous political atmosphere fed by violent rhetoric. They blamed everyone from Sarah Palin to the Tea Party to Bigfoot for contributing to it. Never mind that Jared Lee Loughner had no more affiliation with right wing politics than Nancy Pelosi. It was a good occasion to bludgeon their political opponents and possibly make those on the right think twice before launching future verbal fusillades. And it was all so predictable.
But people seem to be tiring of all the ginned up outrage and moral high dudgeon. A callus seems to have formed over the indignant-sensing nerve for much of the public. They’ve heard it all so many times before. They’ve endured the agitated talking heads on the cable networks pontificating about something so inconsequential to the lives of real people that it’s lost any meaning. Voters rightly ask themselves, “Is this dumb comment really the biggest thing on my Senator’s plate right now?” The country has bigger problems.
Think of it as a firearms version of Godwin’s Law, which holds that as any discussion of an issue grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one. Our version – let’s call it the TTAG Axiom – holds that as more outrage to an innocuous gun-related comment is expressed, the popular interest in that incident approaches zero.
So let’s all untwist our knickers for just a moment, shall we? Coburn’s comment was remarkably unremarkable, particularly by historical standards of American political rhetorical excess. No one who’s at all serious thinks Coburn actually wants to use a gun on the Senate floor. The tiresome transparency of the outrage by those who benefit from expressing it only reveals that there’s no one behind that particular curtain.