Via Newsbusters, here’s last night’s entire garbage event in one line. The ostensible point of this town hall meeting, remember, was to “foster dialogue” or whatever even though there’s palpably no meaningful dialogue to be had between the two sides.
“I’m sorry, I know I’m not supposed to do this, but I’m not going to listen to that. Senator Rubio, it’s hard to look at you and not look down the barrel on an AR-15 and not look at Nikolas Cruz, but the point is: You’re here and there are some people who are not.”
That comes right at the start of the clip, which is noteworthy. This wasn’t the kid working himself into a lather as he remembered the shooting and saying something vicious in the heat of the moment that he might regret later. This is the opening of his question to Rubio. It’s obviously a canned line he prepared and wanted to squeeze in while he had the chance. He’s grandstanding with the nastiest smear he could think of, knowing he won’t be criticized for it.
A lefty friend conceded to me that it was vicious and unfair, and doesn’t represent how most liberals feel about gun-rights supporters. Doesn’t it? Does anyone there seem perturbed by it? Rubio surely was insulted but had no choice except to keep his cool; the reason the left wants the kids out in front of their media effort this week is precisely because righty politicians can’t respond to a swipe like this with the contempt it deserves. If Rubio had pushed back, he’d be accused of “picking on the kids,” “compounding their grief,” et cetera. But no one else there is similarly constrained. Tapper could have said something in the name of keeping the event civil. Bill Nelson, who praised Rubio for showing up to face what everyone knew would be a hostile audience, didn’t say anything. On the contrary, Dana Loesch was heckled once or twice by the crowd with cries of “murderer” when she came out to speak.
So what I’m saying is, I think that town hall really advanced the debate. I’m sensing a lot of good vibes and common ground today. And I’m excited for the next town hall featuring abortion survivors confronting pro-choice Democrats, to be aired sometime between tonight and never.
Right-wing reaction to this will be complicated (a little) by the fact that pro-gun populists hate Rubio, viewing him as a sellout for his Gang of Eight role on amnesty a few years ago. They may hate him more after last night, in fact, even though he and Loesch were the only people in the room defending the right’s position since he made some new concessions on gun laws, like agreeing to consider banning high-capacity magazines. I don’t think he “won” the event just by showing up either, as the crowd were his constituents and politicians have a duty of accountability — although not one that requires them to stand there patiently while they’re accused of murder. However you feel about Rubio, though, digest this and don’t forget it: He wasn’t called a murderer because he holds outre, far out of the mainstream opinions about gun rights, he was called a murderer because he doesn’t. He believes in a constitutional right to own a weapon for self-defense. He doesn’t believe all semiautomatics should be banned. If that makes him a murderer it makes you a murderer as well. That, in so many words, was the real point of this event, to wave the bloody shirt and indict all law-abiding gun-rights supporters as complicit in the attack in Parkland.
And it was by design. CNN knew what they were getting here. Conservatives who appear on the network should think hard going forward about patronizing an outfit that promotes this point of view.
There was one useful thing that came out of the program, though. Watch below, via the Free Beacon. At one point Rubio answered a question about an “assault weapons” ban by arguing that, logically, it would lead to a ban on all semiautomatic weapons — certainly on all semiautomatic rifles. At which point the crowd broke out into cheers. If, at long last, we’re finally past the point of liberals BSing everyone that they only want “common sense restrictions,” not an outright ban on a gigantic number of weapons, that’s productive. I’m looking forward to our crusading anti-gun media asking red-state Democrats like Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Manchin and Jon Tester and Claire McCaskill and Joe Donnelly whether they agree. Do they love children, or are they murderers?