The Media Muddles the Gun Control Debate
AP top News Headlines (on-line 4/9/13)
“….At least five Republicans have indicated an openness to support the Democratic effort to begin debate [on gun restrictions]. That would give Democrats the votes they would need—assuming no moderate Democrats defect, which is possible.”
To most of the media, including leading TV reporters, pundits and online and print journalists, moderates are the better angels of our politics because they are the only ones who can get things done
But is this the full story? In reality, many members of Congress called moderate by the media are actually engaged in situational moderation. During 2010 healthcare debate, for example, several Democrats, sounding like conservatives, were set to join the Republicans in opposition. However, they soon waivered under pressure and moved toward the Democratic position. Reporters then proclaimed them to be moderates because they were adept at dancing along the fault line between the two parties.
In another noteworthy case, a Democratic senator announced that he was a moderate on an education bill because he took the middle road between ardent Democrats on one side and fervent Republicans on the other. However, this same senator later joined far right Republicans to support legislation, opposed by Democrats and law enforcement, to relax gun control laws. In one instance he was a “moderate” and in the next he was “immoderate.”
Dictionary.com definition of moderate: “Kept or keeping within reasonable or proper limits; not extreme, excessive, or intense….”
Under this definition, who are the “moderate” Democrats and who are the extreme, excessive, or intense ones? Is a “moderate” Democrat one who dithers on the issue of sensible restrictions on rapid-fire weapons of the type used for mass murder? Or, is a Democrat being immoderate when he or she supports such legislation?
Parts of this post were first published 11/24/11