Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Rotten Apple


After the bi-partisan legislation, the Manchin-Toomey Bill, which called for expanded background checks on gun sales via the Internet and at gun shows, was defeated in the Senate last month, I published a post here called “Adding Tremendous Insult to Horrendous Injury”.   In it,  I listed the names of all senators who voted against the bill, whether Republican or Democrat.  One of those names was Kelly Ayotte, Republican senator from New Hampshire.  Despite the fact that eighty percent of all New Hampshire voters were (and still are) for expanded background checks and even though among the states’ conservative Republicans, the number stands at fifty six percent, still, Senator Ayotte voted ‘NO’.

When confronted by angry and frustrated voters at several town hall meetings and asked why she voted against the bill, Senator Ayotte offered several explanations, none of which answered the question.  Seeing that the controversy would not go away, Ayotte decided to change strategies.  She went from trying to explain her ‘NO’ vote, to lying about it and claiming that she actually voted ‘YES’.  The about face was made possible with the help of the NRA, who paid for a $25,000 ad, showing documents meant as proof that Ayotte voted in favor of expanded background checks!  How did they do that?  Simple.  Ayotte’s ‘YES’ vote, referred to in the ad, was not for the Manchin-Toomey Bill!  It was a vote for an alternative gun control bill, written by the NRA, and sponsored by Senator Chuck Grassley (R - IA) and Ted Cruz (R - TX); a bill widely seen as actually undermining the background check system.  Needless to say, this key fact was entirely omitted from the ad. 

Kelly Ayotte is the epitome of a corrupt politician whose conduct on Capitol Hill, makes a mockery out of our democratic system.  Rather than representing the will of her constituency, Ayotte votes in accordance with the wishes of those who bought and paid for her vote, the NRA.   

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Senator Ayotte is now being supported by Senator Marco Rubio (R - FL), a potential GOP candidate for the presidency in 2016 who, by the way, also voted ‘NO’ on the Manchin-Toomey bill, despite ninety-one percent of his constituency being in favor of it.  His Reclaim America PAC paid for an ad which says:
 
“Safety. Security. Family. No one understands these things like a mom, and no one works harder for them than this one.  A former prosecutor, Kelly Ayotte knows how to reduce gun violence. Ayotte voted to fix background checks, strengthen mental health screenings and more resources to prosecute criminals using guns.”

The ad goes on to say:

“Washington might not like it, but you can count on it.  Kelly Ayotte stands for our values, not theirs.”
Since (as the ad claims) Ayotte does not stand for the values in Washington, and as her vote did not reflect the values of the vast majority of her constituents who are in support expanded background checks, whose values then are the “our values” the ad is referring to?   Keeping in mind that Senator Ayotte has an ‘A’ rating from the NRA, is it so far fetched to say that it is their values she stands for?  
If the reported six-figure price tag for the ad is anything to go by, Senator Rubio must evidently now stand for them too, but his commitment to the NRA wasn’t always quite so complete.  in 2012, Rubio’s house failed to pass legislation permitting employees to bring guns to work.  This transgression prompted an NRA lobbyist, Marion Hammer to complain that,  "He talked the talk, but he didn't walk the walk.", and likely, is the reason that Rubio’s rating by the NRA is currently at only a ‘B+’ level.  
His (expensive) support of the embattled Kelly Ayotte looks to be one of the steps on his path to NRA redemption and the coveted ‘A’.  Another is not returning $50,000 in contributions from the NRA to retire his campaign debt, despite wide spread calls for him to do so, in light of Wayne LaPierre’s controversial op-ed, in which he (LaPierre) singled out Latinos as the main reason why border-state "good Americans" need semi-automatic weapons, and claimed that "Latin American drug gangs" have "invaded" U.S. cities and turned Phoenix into "one of the kidnapping capitals of the world."
Not satisfied in having just senators and congressmen in their pocket, the NRA has, perhaps, set it’s sights on higher ground.  Marco Rubio may be just the one to spearhead those ambitions.  Since presidential elections are three years away, the senator has plenty of time to prove his worthiness and become “the chosen one”, rewarded with enough NRA money pouring into his campaign coffers to make even him salivate.   If nothing else, his dry mouth won’t be a problem anymore.
As for the rest of us - if the NRA’s plans do come to pass, the alternate United States I wrote about, may not be not so ‘alternate’, after all. 

A.J. Aston

Article first published as A Rotten Apple on Blogcritics.

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