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The political passion for obsession

Wesley Pruden

By Wesley Pruden

Published Oct. 16, 2015

The political passion for obsession

The Democrats continue to be obsessed with guns and the weather, the two biggest things they can't do anything about. Bernie Sanders tried to give Hillary Clinton a tutorial at the Democratic debate about why Americans beyond the Beltway appreciate guns for what they are, useful like automobiles, even if sometimes abused. (Who has not been tempted to thrash a Chevy pick-up when it decides not to run?)

Bernie, for his part, only wants to talk about his obsession with changing weather, why sometimes it rains and sometimes it doesn't. He's sure he could do something about that if only the people would send him to the White House. As a big government guy he would plug up the oil wells and shutter the coal mines so we can all sit in the dark and read by candlelight the learned papers of unemployable academics. If we don't read the professor's learned paper about the coming catastrophe, who will?

But try as it might, the global-warming lobby has not succeeded in spreading its hysteria to the masses. Global warming is still far, far down the list of things people worry about. They notice that the seas that were supposed to have put Manhattan under water by now didn't come across. The polar bears are still with us, dozing on an ice floe and dreaming of a tasty Al Gore for supper. Bernie, trying to break through the media obsession with Hillary's debating prowess, doesn't have anything to freshen up his arguments with, but he knows how to raise the decibel level at a campaign rally.

The only people the Democrats really scare with their campfire stories are the impressionable educationists, the administrators and some of the teachers in the schoolroom. This week the principal shut down the high school in tiny Kyle, Texas, when a student asked another for gum, and "gum" sounded like "gun" in overly sensitized ears. Everyone went briefly nuts, which would have been avoided if the gum-chewer had asked for a nut.

The principal declared a lockdown, and when nobody found a gun, the school district — which to the credit of all felt embarrassed and chagrined — spent the rest of the day insisting that it hadn't really done what it really did. "The school was never in lockdown," a spokesman for the school district insisted, but administrators did "hold students in their extended class periods to investigate their concern with little to no disruption to their schedule." Perhaps one of the English teachers could give the principal a tutorial in the meaning of "lockdown."

The confusion over "gum" and "gun" recalls the scene in a Woody Allen movie where he goes in to rob a bank and passes a note to a teller, saying he has a gun and wants the money.

"What's a gub?" the teller asks.

"No," replies the robber, "that's 'gun,' with an 'n,' not 'gub' with a 'b'."

The teller is not persuaded. "It looks like 'gub' to me." The robber turns to others in the line and polls them on whether it was a 'b' or an 'n,' a "gun" and not "gub." The robbery fizzles with an unresolved dispute over penmanship. Nor do we know whether the young man in Kyle, Texas, got his piece of Juicy Fruit or stick of Dentyne. Life gets complicated in real time.

Some grown-ups are having a hard time, too. The editors of the reliably left-wing Nation magazine, who are bullish on Bernie and share his hysteria over guns, weather, income inequality, etc., and are particularly upset that "the true costs of gun deaths are borne ... primarily by black men, who are 15 times more likely to die from gun violence than white men." The editors acknowledge that "every political observer knows that tougher gun-control laws will not be enacted anytime soon." In the meantime, the survival of the republic hangs in the balance.

Hillary's path to Pennsylvania Avenue seems a little easier. All she has to do is sit back and let Republican congressmen do the work. The noise over Kevin McCarthy's bonehead blast at the Benghazi committee, that the Benghazi investigation is just dirty politics, began to subside, and then another Republican congressman set out to get his name in the papers.

"This may not be politically correct," Rep. Richard Hanna of New York City told a radio interviewer, "but I think there was a big part of this investigation that was designed to go after people, and an individual, Hillary Clinton."

This election may be about obsessions — over guns, global warming, women in the White House, suicide by congressmen not ready for prime time. Some of our candidates need better professional help.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.

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