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Outsiders vs. Insiders: CNN clown hall sideshow proves the Left’s out for much more than blood

If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

It’s an old aphorism we’ve heard a million times and understand despite the fact it has nothing to do with kitchens and the “heat” in this instance is something other than warmth supplied by a stove. Politicians CNN Town Hallappreciate the adage better than most considering “heat” is what they signed up for when they filed official papers to run for office.

It’s a good thing -- our representatives and senators should feel the heat – and often. Constant constituent engagement with lawmakers is the only way to keep attention focused where it should be – on the concerns of voters. Otherwise political elites become too enamored with their own positions of power and ignore the will of the people. They become complacent in thought and lazy in deed.

But there’s also a limit to the “heat” a policymaker should face and to the forum in which to feel it. If they’re unfairly thrown into a “fire” full of antagonists, it can get ugly – as it did for Florida Senator Marco Rubio at Wednesday’s CNN town hall on firearms.

Marc Caputo and Rebecca Morin of Politico reported, “Rubio shifted on firearms Wednesday night as he weathered the righteous anger of a parent and of the students who survived the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and who then faced him onstage at a CNN town hall in purple Florida’s liberal bastion of Broward County.

“Jeered and booed by the crowd, buffeted by tough questions, Rubio stood alone as the only Republican onstage, in purple Florida’s liberal bastion of Broward County. He broke with President Trump on whether to arm teachers. Rubio said it was a bad idea. He said he would favor raising the minimum age to purchase an assault rifle from 18 to 21. And he said he would consider restricting the size of magazines for firearms.

“It was a striking turnabout for Rubio, who never met a gun-rights bill he didn’t vote for in the Florida Legislature and, later, in Congress. But Rubio said he wanted to prevent another massacre and said it was time for everyone to start rethinking their positions.”

You can just sense the contempt the Politico writers have for Rubio; they’re all but saying -- Good for little Marco! He’s showing great “common sense” by acknowledging the liberal argument! We’d still never vote for him, but he caved! Yoo-hoo!

While most people agree politicians should reevaluate their issue positions from time to time – like President Trump changing his mind on abortion – general principles are not subject to the whims of jeering crowds and stupid CNN hosts asking loaded questions depicting anyone disagreeing with the mob as ignorant and insensitive.

That’s not “heat” in the “kitchen”; it’s being tossed into a tank full of sharks with a profusely bleeding wound while shouting, “Come ‘n get it!

The fact Rubio bent to the urges of the multitude isn’t surprising. When confronted with people who just the prior week lost a child or faced possible death at the hands of a lunatic wielding a weapon you can’t help but want to provide comfort. It’s the human thing to do.

At the same time, principles are principles – in Rubio’s case he’s supposed to represent these people in Congress and doesn’t want to instigate an argument with a grieving father on national TV. It’s a confrontation that can’t be won and could lessen a senator’s authority in other matters.

In brilliantly backing Rubio into a corner CNN couldn’t have scripted the thing any better; Rubio was the only Republican elected official on a stage with a full contingent of liberal Democrat gun grabbers, public panderers itching to give the crowd anything it asked for. It’s wasn’t a town hall meeting as much as it was a clown hall sideshow with Rubio the one wearing oversized shoes, baggy pantaloons and a puffy red nose.

In witnessing the virtual inquisition right before our eyes (minus a noose) one couldn’t help but wonder – why aren’t nationally televised “town hall” meetings held to discuss conservative issues? Why for example aren’t liberal politicians brought to bear before a hungry crowd of pro-lifers for their take on the sanctity of unborn life? How about forcing Hillary Clinton to take questions from audience members who regret having had abortions? Who’d be jeering then?

Or why doesn’t CNN host a town hall on the immigration issue with “Angel” moms and dads (citizens whose children were crime victims of illegal aliens) asking the questions? Or toss a Democrat in the ring at a tea party rally and see how they fare – would the politician twist, turn, lie and say anything to avoid feeling like a caged animal in the middle of a freak show?

We already know the answer – just review any of Bill Clinton’s performances where he supposedly faced live questioning. Master manipulator ‘ol bubba Bill tilted his head, bit his lip and lied his way into any convenient position with statements like “abortion should be safe, legal and rare.”

Every politician needs tough questioning, but the queries must be fair, too. The lowlight of the CNN event came when Rubio was asked to pledge not to accept any further campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association. It’s no secret the NRA is ground zero for the left’s hatred – as though the people advocating for constitutional gun rights tiptoe stealthily behind killers with extra ammo magazines in case the lunatic runs out during a rampage.

President Trump knows otherwise – and said so yesterday. Cristiano Lima of Politico reported, “President Donald Trump called the leaders of the National Rifle Association ‘Great People and Great American Patriots’ on Thursday as the gun lobbyist faces a wave of backlash after last week's deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida…

“’What many people don’t understand, or don’t want to understand, is that Wayne, Chris and the folks who work so hard at the @NRA are Great People and Great American Patriots,’ Trump tweeted in reference to Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox, the NRA's executive vice president and its executive director for legislative action, respectively.

“The president added: ‘They love our Country and will do the right thing.’”

By the “right thing” perhaps Trump is hinting at certain gun control measures. Or he could be voicing support for the angry crowd’s demands knowing such things will never pass in Congress without concessions from the left on proposals like concealed carry permits. We’ll see.

The basic conflict won’t change either way. Leftists see guns as instruments to kill people; Second Amendment believers view guns as implements for personal protection (and hunting, etc). Rubio may have melted under the “heat” from a hostile audience but that doesn’t alter the principle one bit. No matter how many laws, restrictions or bans the government imposes it’s not going to transform the minds of citizens who “cling” to firearms as perhaps their final means to resist government overreach.

Liberals won’t concede it, but guns aren’t just for hunting or personal protection either. They’re for keeping government honest, too. David French wrote at National Review, “[A]n assault-weapon ban (along with a ban on high-capacity magazines) would gut the concept of an armed citizenry as a final, emergency bulwark against tyranny. No credible person doubts that the combination of a reliable semiautomatic rifle and a large-capacity magazine is far more potent than a revolver, bolt-action rifle, or pump-action shotgun.

“A free citizen armed with an assault rifle is more formidable than a free citizen armed only with a pistol. A population armed with assault rifles is more formidable than a population armed with less lethal weapons.

“The argument is not that a collection of random citizens should be able to go head-to-head with the Third Cavalry Regiment. That’s absurd. Nor is the argument that citizens should possess weapons ‘in common use’ in the military. Rather, for the Second Amendment to remain a meaningful check on state power, citizens must be able to possess the kinds and categories of weapons that can at least deter state overreach, that would make true authoritarianism too costly to attempt.”

While an elected official in a town hall meeting shouldn’t be made to worry for his safety – or life -- at the hands of a scornful crowd, the government, at least on some level, should fear an armed citizenry. After all it’s the people who are sovereign – the government serves us, not the other way around.

The government is also charged with protecting us so it’s reasonable for the military and police to have weaponry appropriate for their duties. But that doesn’t suggest Americans should be left with only peashooters against imminent threats. In this day and age with obvious corruption at the highest reaches of law enforcement it’s not so far-fetched to envision a time when citizens must lawfully defend themselves against a tyrannical dictator with dedicated followers.

In such circumstances the government should fear what might be waiting around the corner.

Even if you recognized America’s cultural and political divide was deep before -- Wednesday night’s CNN event shone a bright spotlight on the need to elect upright politicians who articulate principled arguments in the face of intense “heat.” Marco Rubio was unfairly attacked and placed in a position to fail – but that doesn’t mean conservatives can’t win the next time by having better spokespeople with a winning message.

And it certainly doesn’t require President Trump to side with the establishment and endorse wishy-washy Republicans (like Mitt Romney) no matter how attractive some people make it sound.

Alexandra DeSanctis wrote at National Review, “Perhaps Trump has realized that, if he wishes to sign major legislation into law beyond last December's tax reform, he’ll need more than 51 GOP senators to get the job done. Alternatively, perhaps the president suspected that Romney might be able to win in Utah even without his support and wanted to preempt that possibility by getting on board early so that he can claim credit come November.

“Regardless, urged on by his ever-present desire for victory, Trump should take the same good will he’s managed to muster toward Romney and apply it to the campaign of every viable Republican candidate, regardless of past feuds…”

We’ll no doubt be hearing this contention a lot in the coming months as the GOP primaries are about to start. Trump will face enormous pressure to throw in with establishment candidates who are said to be “viable.” But who determines viability? The consultant class, of course, people like Karl Rove.

This is the opposite of what Trump should do. Trump needs fighters – outsiders like himself. Wednesday’s CNN town hall showed the opposition to his agenda is intense and he’ll require reinforcements in Congress with the backbone to look people in the eye and hold firm on principles – otherwise the battle is lost already.

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