"This is nothing more than a publicity stunt."
-- Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on the Democratic sit-in on Gun Law votes.
Well...yeah!! It is nothing more than a publicity stunt. That's the exact point. And it's an incredibly great publicity stunt. As I write this Thursday morning, it's been the leading story in the nation for 23 hours. That's seriously impressive as far as publicity stunts go. With most publicity stunts (and I say this as a former publicist in my wayward days), you dearly hope that you simply get noticed and maybe a mention on page eight. But this? This been front page, lead-story news for a full day...and counting. Boy howdy, that's one terrific publicity stunt.
And the thing is, Mr. Ryan himself acknowledges that very thing. Specifically. "This is about trying to get attention," he added.
Bingo. Yes, that's exactly what it's trying to do! And it sure did get attention.
The Speaker's complaint is that the sit-in is not something that it wasn't directly intending to be. "This is not about a solution to a problem," he said. And no, it's not. It's not about a solution to a problem. It's about drawing attention to the fact that the Republican Party isn't allowing there to be a vote to help get to one of those solutions. And in doing that, the intent is to then get a vote which could either bring about these solutions, and point out clearly to the country that it's the GOP which is blocking there being a solution.
Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) pointed out a blunt reply to Mr. Ryan who is upset that the Democrats aren't proposing a solution. "The Speaker," he said, "should come forward with his own proposals."
Actually, to be fair, the Democrats have proposed a solution. That's the whole point of the sit-in -- the get a vote on those proposals.
And the proposals are pretty straightforward -- and both are supported by about 85-90% of all Americans. One, not allow anyone of the No Fly Watch List to buy a gun, and two, to require background checks for the sale of guns over the Internet or at trade shows.
There's one positive thing about Paul Ryan's comments, though, which have been overlooked. The fact that he says, "This is not about a solution to a problem," shows that he actually does acknowledge that there is a problem! Something it's hard to get most Republican officials to admit. Usually it's just that the laws are fine and swell, we just need to enforce them better.
In the end, it's probably Paul Ryan's dismissive, though observant, comment that is meaningless and therefore as much a mere publicity stunt as what the Democrats are doing. The difference is that he won't admit it. And may not even know it.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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