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President Obama, Please Stop the "Both Sides" Nonsense

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From Election Night - Obama
Election Night - Obama by C-SPAN_LCV
I heard you on TV last week, talking about guns. I'm glad you're pressing the matter, and not just letting it die. But something about the way you talked about the gun issue made me want to scream.

I heard you doing that "both sides do it" nonsense.  Explaining why it's so hard to get reasonable things done, you said both sides take "extreme positions."

But just what is the "extreme position" anybody in Congress is taking on the gun-control side?  Is anyone taking a position more "extreme" than what you have proposed -- universal background checks and a ban on weapons and ammo-clips that enable a shooter to massacre dozens of people within seconds?

Even if there were positions more in the direction of gun-control than yours, would they be "extreme" using the laws of all the other advanced societies in these matters as the standard of what's reasonable and what's extreme. (The citizens of those nations are 20 times less likely than Americans to die from firearms.)

No, what's extreme is the position taken by the NRA, and by all those who either agree with the NRA or allow themselves to be intimidated by the NRA.  What's extreme is taking the right to bear arms as an absolute, so that even weapons that have no legitimate civilian use -- self-protection or hunting -- must be allowed in a 21st century civilized society.

So why give voice to this "both sides" nonsense?  It's contrary to the truth, and it's counter-productive.  It gets in the way of achieving your purposes.

The leadership the American people need
on this gun issue will tell it like it is.  It will help our citizenry understand that our toxic, obstructionist, extreme politics is not coming from both sides.  It's coming from one side that's gone off the deep end. It's coming from a side that uses fear-mongering lies and treats politics as warfare. 
Helping the American people see this is Job One for you, Mr. President.  It's Job One because none of the other jobs will get done, or get done right, until enough of the American people see clearly the nature of the force that's preventing us from meeting our challenges -- on the gun issue, and just about every other problem in America that needs addressing.

 I don't think your way ("both sides do it," "extreme positions" in both directions, the problem with "Washington")  makes you look reasonable.  It makes you look weak.  It doesn't make you look like a truth-teller.  It makes you look like you've allowed yourself to become enmeshed in a political system in which the lie too often defeats the truth.

Appeasing these opponents with bogus even-handedness will not make them any more likely to cooperate with you. The Republicans who do the bidding of the NRA on the gun issue are the same people who made it their top priority in your first term to make you fail. If they budge, it won't be because you treat them with a respect they don't deserve but because you've made the political costs of their destructive conduct too great for them to bear.

Andy Schmookler, recently the Democratic candidate for Congress from Virginia's 6th District, is an author whose books include, Out of Weakness: Healing the Wounds that Drive Us to War.


Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. He is the author of various books including The Parable of the Tribes: The (more...)
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The "two sides" myth is the ruse Obama uses to hid... by John Rachel on Saturday, Apr 13, 2013 at 6:56:50 PM
I knew when I posted this on opednews that this id... by Andrew Schmookler on Saturday, Apr 13, 2013 at 7:26:15 PM
on big issues, how could Obama take any stance? &n... by Robert S. Becker on Sunday, Apr 14, 2013 at 1:39:13 PM
John, the "both sides" myth as you correctly call ... by Alan MacDonald on Monday, Apr 15, 2013 at 11:26:31 AM
Background checks my *ss... so many ways around th... by Dennis Kaiser on Saturday, Apr 13, 2013 at 7:04:19 PM
the insurance requirement is looking more and more... by John Sanchez Jr. on Sunday, Apr 14, 2013 at 8:31:36 AM
Seems there's been some 'unforeseen' consequences ... by Natalie Oberman on Monday, Apr 15, 2013 at 4:09:58 AM
Australia does not eliminate guns, just makes it m... by Dennis Kaiser on Monday, Apr 15, 2013 at 9:51:29 AM
My advice is to change to a Third Party candidate ... by Deborah Dills on Saturday, Apr 13, 2013 at 9:36:04 PM
Excerpt from Franklin D. Roosevelt's First Inagura... by E. J. N. on Saturday, Apr 13, 2013 at 9:47:19 PM
This idea that there needs to be "balance" instead... by Susan Lee Schwartz on Sunday, Apr 14, 2013 at 9:40:04 AM
1. The  gun-control  bill is  nonse... by Mark Sashine on Sunday, Apr 14, 2013 at 9:41:07 AM
In my first comment I pointed out how the words of... by E. J. N. on Sunday, Apr 14, 2013 at 2:58:30 PM
Obama isn't on 'both sides'...he's on their side..... by Carol Davidek-Waller on Sunday, Apr 14, 2013 at 9:29:08 PM
Obama just simply won't put in a stake and claim a... by Darryl P on Monday, Apr 15, 2013 at 4:57:16 AM
did you read Maureen Dowd's No Bully In The Pulpit... by Susan Lee Schwartz on Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 4:36:36 PM