Trump and the NRA Are Now Out of Sync
Donald Trump and the NRA are growing out of sync. No, you wouldn't believe that based on the rapturous reaction to his speech on Friday before the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Atlanta, the first such appearance before the group by a sitting U.S. president since Ronald Reagan's in 1983.
Trump flattered the NRA's leadership and the members in the audience, promising to enact whatever remains on its agenda for Washington. "To the NRA, I can proudly say I will never, ever let you down," Trump said.
After years of victories, including the culture-warping legislative inaction that followed the massacre of children in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, the NRA's wish list is pretty spare. It wants concealed-carry permit holders to be able to carry their guns in every state, and it wants something that might be called the Hit Man's Aural Relief Act to enable the easy purchase of gun silencers.
But the NRA's agenda has been so successful in red states that the organization is running out of ideas to enact. In most of those places, an untrained gun owner can carry a loaded firearm into a store, a school, a playground -- pretty much anywhere. Blue states, meanwhile, are increasingly hostile to the group's aims.
Over the years, the appearances and rhetoric of NRA leader Wayne LaPierre have become highly ritualized. His apocalyptic sermons are akin to a revealed truth that only the select can grasp. And his enemies are nothing short of diabolical.
Hillary Clinton's election, LaPierre said at last year's NRA convention, would produce "a permanent darkness of deceit and despair forced upon the American people to endure.”
The loss of Clinton and Barack Obama as foils has been hard on him. But as the Washington Times reports, the NRA leader showed in Atlanta that he can summon other demons.
Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president and CEO of the National Rifle Association, on Friday told gun-rights activists they have to do their best to support President Trump because “leftist zealots” and elites are determined to tear him down.
“We must do all we can to support our president, because as you know, there’s an intense war that’s being waged by leftist zealots to destroy President Trump and destroy his administration,” Mr. LaPierre said.
“It’s up to us to speak up against the three most dangerous voices in America: academic elites, political elites, and media elites,” he said. “These are America’s greatest domestic threats.”
LaPierre's enemies are still Trump's enemies. But now that Trump is president, Trump must also maintain the claim, illusory or not, that he's in charge and has the bad guys on the run. He told the NRA crowd that his administration is ridding the country of gangs of undocumented immigrants and that he has his political opponents on the defensive, taking a moment to mock Senator Elizabeth Warren as "Pocahontas."
As a candidate, Trump routinely cribbed from LaPierre's slasher script, falsely claiming, "We have the highest murder rate in this country in 45 years." (The evil news media, Trump maintained, kept the bloodbath a secret from people.)
But Trump's psychology, and his political needs, will necessarily dictate a parallel course as president. He will still condemn the monsters seeking to destroy the nation from within. But he will also spout news and nonsense about the jobs created on his watch. He will talk, as he did in Atlanta, about the protective wall he's going to build. Murder and mayhem are increasingly topics to be rationed, lest they reflect poorly on his presidency.
LaPierre's gig still depends on Apocalypse Now. Trump's depends increasingly on Apocalypse Forestalled. The mind meld is over.
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