Who is standing in the way of sensible gun-control legislation?
Graduates of my world-famous "How to Write a David Brooks Column" self-actualization seminar ("10 Easy Steps to Punditting Like a Pro!") --
-- understand the answer to any such question is absolutely foreordained.1) Pick a subject. Any subject. From Tasseled Loafers to Torture, it literally does not matter.
2) Quote extensively from one person or group on the subject. It's OK to just more-or-less copy and paste in big hunks of what whatever-you-happen-to-be-reading-at-the-moment to flesh out your 800-word column. Here at the Times we call that "research"!
3) Quote from some other person or group on the same subject who appears to hold a different opinion. If no actual opposition exists, just put on your Magic Green Jacket and invent an opposing opinion.
4) Although such is not the case with today's subject, as often as possible, try to impute these fictional distinctions to the different hemispheres of the political Universe. So no matter how bigoted, reckless or just bugfuck crazy the Right behaves, you just go right ahead and blandly assert with no supporting evidence whatsoever that the Left is equally and oppositely bad in exactly the same qualities and quantities. Here at the Times we call that "seriousness"!
5) Discover in your final paragraph or two that -- amazingly! -- the precise midpoint between those two completely artificial positions on an imaginary spectrum just happens to be exactly the Right and Reasonable answer!
For the uninitiated, well, let's permit America's Greatest Conservative Public Intellectual speak for himself (emphasis added):
...Let me say that I generally support gun control legislation, because I think the downsides are so minimal. But I have to say I’ve really been put off by the over-the-top self-righteousness of gun control supporters over the past several days. They act like the case for gun control is open and shut, and that anybody who is skeptical has blood on their hands.
...All this is not to say that gun control laws are definitely ineffective. ... Still, there is not enough evidence here to justify all the simple-minded self-righteousness.
...The basic truth is that most policies fail and even those that work rarely produce results robust enough to be an open-and-shut case. When we are making policy, we’re inevitably dealing with marginal improvements and large uncertainties. There is very rarely grounds for absolutist self-righteousness. Nonetheless, there is self-righteousness in abundance.
...This isn’t only an argument about politeness. The self-righteousness on both sides of the gun issue has totally ruined the prospects for good policy making. The gun control debate is no longer about guns. It’s a culture war between urbanites and rural people.
...The N.R.A. wouldn’t be so powerful if it didn’t have the support of the majority of Americans, who probably don’t object to things like the assault weapons ban per se, but do object to urban snobbery.
...people who support the gun lobby don’t even seem to regard guns as guns. They seem to regard them as religious icons.
...But I’m also anti the people who are anti-N.R.A.
The gun lobby is terrible. The self-righteousness lobby is offensive.
-- David Brooks, July 25 2012, "What We Talk About When We Talk About Guns"Brave talk, made especially hilarious coming from a man who has built an entire career out of being indignantly, simple-mindedly and self-righteously wrong about everything.