The Tuesday: Hysteria Is Not a Program

Welcome to "The Tuesday," a weekly newsletter about language, politics, culture, and the unconquerable stupidity of the American press. To subscribe to "The Tuesday," follow this link ...

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BY KEVIN D. WILLIAMSON April 13, 2021
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WITH KEVIN D. WILLIAMSON April 13, 2021
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Hysteria Is Not a Program

Welcome to "The Tuesday," a weekly newsletter about language, politics, culture, and the unconquerable stupidity of the American press. To subscribe to "The Tuesday," follow this link. Subscribing to "The Tuesday" is free, but subscribing to National Review is not, because this content does not just exnihilate onto the Internet. The best thing you can do to support our work is to become a National Review subscriber, which comes with sundry benefits that you may find of interest. I am, as always, grateful for your support of our work.

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Not that everybody is enchanted with everything they read in this space. Far from it.

Last week, I wrote a couple of pieces that irritated readers Right and Left. And so, proceeding in a politically dextrosinistral fashion . . .

A number of right-leaning readers wrote in, occasionally spitting with rage, to protest my suggestion that the time is ripe for a bipartisan deal on gun policy. The refrain was, for the most part: "No compromise!" Some of the less verbal among the critics sent cartoons of Lucy van Pelt pulling the football away from Charlie Brown. The usual right-wing social-media accounts desperate to draft off of NR's traffic did the sort of thing they usually do, in the usual sad-clown fashion. And to think: It was only a few years ago these folks were talking up The Art of the Deal.

Here's some negotiating advice: When the other side offers you something you want, take it.

Of particular interest to me was former Brady Campaign director Dan Gross's column in the New York Times, in which he forthrightly conceded that if our goal is reducing the level of criminal violence in these United States in a meaningful fashion, then focusing on mass-shooting events (which claim fewer lives every year than do firearms accidents) and pressing for policies such as a ban on so-called assault weapons is not the way to go. Gross suggested several possible courses of action, including doing more to investigate and prosecute gun-trafficking operations. So, if you are keeping score: Gross supports an assault-weapons ban in principle, writing, "I believe there is no place in civilized society for guns that are made for the express purpose of killing people," which is a case against the Second Amendment per se — the right enshrined therein isn't about pheasant hunting. I, along with most other gun-rights advocates, would oppose such a ban. But the action item here isn't what we disagree about — it's what we agree about. If there are more like Gross, willing to put the "assault weapons" issue on the back burner (I don't expect them to set it aside entirely) and instead work with conservatives on trafficking and straw buyers — something many Second Amendment advocates have been seeking for years — then why on God's green earth should we pass up the chance to take "Yes" for an answer?

Conservatives — and, specifically, elected Republicans — still have not learned the lesson they should have taken from getting so thoroughly rope-a-doped by Barack Obama on health care back in 2009. During the health-care debate, Democrats offered up some policies that ranged from the mediocre to the positively bad, and Republicans responded by insisting, almost with one voice, "We have the best health-care system in the world! Harrumph!" Even if Republicans had been right about that — and they weren't — that would have been political malpractice of the worst kind. Millions and millions of Americans wanted (and still want) to see big changes to our health-care system, not because of ideology but because of risk aversion — medical bills are unpredictable, insurance benefits can be difficult to understand and manage, plans linked to employers are inherently insecure, etc. Americans were worried about losing their insurance, getting a surprise medical bill for tens of thousands of dollars, or having a condition excluded from coverage by their insurers on some self-serving pretext. Lecturing these people that they should just be grateful for what they have was a political loser, to be sure, but it was also — and this still matters! — bad policy, there being considerable room for improvement in the American system.

Gun control is an issue in which Kulturkampf ...   READ MORE

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