Once the CNN Town Hall meeting, that took place Thursday evening, January 7, 2016, primetime, had concluded, the liberal mainstream media, together with the hordes of sycophantic left-wing web blogs – including, “Forward Progressives,” “Liberals Unite,” “The Daily Beast,” “Addicting Info,” and “the Atlantic Broadband,” to name a few – went immediately to work, on behalf of President Obama, attacking both the Second Amendment and the NRA, chastising and belittling the NRA for having turned down the President’s invitation to take part in the give and take “debate” with the President, at the Town Hall meeting.
Of course, had Obama not made mention of the NRA’s failure to attend the Town Hall, the mainstream media and left-wing web blogs would not have even brought the matter up. But, Obama doesn’t say anything unless his utterances have effect. And he meant to poke fun at the NRA for its failure to accept his “invitation” to join in on the conversation.
These and other left-wing panderers to Obama and destroyers of our Bill of Rights either cannot understand or otherwise choose not to understand why the NRA has refused to take part in the CNN Town Hall meeting – why, in fact the NRA refused to “debate” Obama. The reason is plain. The CNN Town Hall presentation, featuring Obama was, contrary to the producers’ assertions, an orchestrated event. A handful of individuals stood up, said their piece, and listened intently, while the Commander in Chief of the night’s performance, Obama, lectured, as he is ever wont to do.
This staged performance, this carnival, was not a debate and was never intended to be a debate. It was simply a vehicle through which the President might appeal to the American people, explaining why, as he sees it, he must take action because Congress, in Obama’s mind, won’t.
The NRA knew, of course, that the entire event was staged and the NRA made the right decision – the only sensible decision it could make under the circumstances. The NRA wasn’t snubbing Obama; nor did the NRA feel any sense of apprehension, contrary to the remarks of the left-wing web blogs.
The simple truth is that the NRA had nothing to gain by attending an event that merely served Obama’s political aims – an event where nothing the NRA happened to say would benefit its members – where anything the NRA might say would only be turned against it at an event that was nothing more than a theatrical performance with the President, Barack Obama, cast as the box office star, protagonist, and the NRA cast in the role as the villain, antagonist. But that didn’t stop Obama from poking fun at and attacking the NRA in absentia.
Obama asserted at one point: “There’s a reason that the NRA isn’t here. They’re right down the street. You think they’d be prepared to have a debate with the President.” The President might have added – “if in fact I intended for this event to be a true debate. And, there’s the rub. The “Town Hall” event wasn’t a ‘debate’ in the true sense of the word.
In this day and age, the word, ‘debate,’ has been so over-used and misused that the public can be forgiven for having forgotten what a real debate is. Obama surely knows what a true debate is and of what a true debate consists. And the NRA knows this as well, and that is why the NRA wasn’t about to take the bait that Obama dangled in front of it. For, the NRA would have been foolish indeed to have done so.
A true debate has a highly structured format and takes place, not in a highly charged arena or amphitheater, but often enough in a smaller, and always neutral forum; and each party who takes part in a true debate stands on an equal footing with the other.
The CNN Town Hall meeting that took place last Thursday had neither the physical structure associated with a true debate, nor a format that could, under even a loose definition of the term, be considered a true debate. And, the NRA definitely would not have stood on an equal footing with Obama since the NRA would, for its part, only be able to proffer questions to the President, as any other member of the audience would, and the President, Obama, for his part, would then commence to lecture NRA on the way things are and why they must be as Obama sees them.
Even the phrase, “Guns in America,” – the identifying title for the night’s performance – carries negative connotations and makes clear to the viewing audience that the salient matter to be addressed that evening involves guns and Americans’ access to them, not the extent to which the Executive Branch of the United States Government seeks to extend its authority over the U.S. Congress and, by extension, over the American people – the more pressing issue, to be sure.
The physical stage for the event that took place at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia was constructed to draw the viewer’s attention to the President. Obama sat in the center of a seemingly circular theater, along with the CNN moderator, Anderson Cooper, around which sat one hundred people. If anyone should doubt that the event was to highlight the President – to place him prominently in the limelight of the night’s events – the very positioning of the President, as he sat on a stool, in the “center of the circle,” emphasized his singular importance and the weight that was to be given to anything he might happen to say that evening. The CNN spectacle was not a “debate” in the traditional, formal, sense or, for that matter, in any sense.
In a traditional debate there is a policy issue to be resolved. The unstated policy issue here is abstruse, certainly, but of paramount concern to those who hold dear the Bill of Rights: whether the President’s unilateral firearms’ measures, that he intends to undertake through the use of executive directives, fall within and do not extend beyond the scope of existing Congressional legislation and therefore amount to the lawful use of the President’s executive authority or, on the other hand, whether the President’s unilateral firearms’ measures, that he intends to undertake through the use of executive directives, fall outside of and extend beyond the parameters of existing Congressional firearms’ legislation and therefore amount to a clear abuse of Presidential authority.
Now, as it happened, the President did not remark on what he deemed to be his Constitutional authority to issue executive directives pertaining to firearms’ laws; and those questions posed to him by members of the audience simply reflected the questioner’s personal feelings toward and concerns about guns, not about Obama’s use or abuse of executive authority. The questions did not even skirt the salient issue which goes directly to the power the Chief Executive, Barack Obama, would exert to contravene the clear import of the Second Amendment, ostensibly to curb gun violence, through the mechanism of executive directives.
In a true debate one party, sitting center-stage, wouldn’t be fielding a set of questions, that were anything but impromptu, from a mere handful of audience members, who had been pre-selected. And, in a true debate, the public would not be compelled to sit through a fireside chat. Rather, in a true debate, there are two equal parties, each of whom takes a position, one pro, to advocate for the position, and one con, to refute the position. Each side presents its arguments according to a set format, during a set period of time. Through it all there are a stringent and clear and cogent set of protocols that each side must adhere to in a true debate.
Had this been a real debate, the NRA would probably have agreed to take part in it, even welcomed it. The President and his team members would present their case, advocating for the lawfulness of the President’s executive directives, and the NRA spokespersons would present their case, refuting the lawfulness of the President’s executive directives. A judge, or an audience would thereafter decide who presented the most convincing argument. That, in essence, is the structure of a true debate. And, a true debate takes place in a fair, impartial, neutral forum. The audience would not be taking an active part in presenting argument but would dutifully listen to each side’s presentation of facts, logical arguments and, yes, emotional rhetoric. That would be something the American people deserve. That is something the American people might reasonably expect. Sadly, that is rarely how issues are ever presented to the public.
President Obama, through the power of his Office, and through support from the mainstream media, is not really interested in hearing the views of those members of the public who believe strongly in the import and purport of the Bill of Rights, and who believe strongly in the Separation of Powers Doctrine, other than to discount such views out-of-hand or to belittle them, or, as was the case with the Town Hall meeting, to pretend that he, President Obama, understands and really cares what anyone who supports the right of the American people to keep and bear arms has to say. So, the NRA did well to avoid making an appearance at the staged CNN event. It would have been impossible for spokespersons for the NRA to be on an equal footing with President Obama at this non-debate, anyway.Copyright © 2015 Roger J Katz (Towne Criour), Stephen L. D’Andrilli (Publius) All Rights Reserved.