Give Trump some credit. I don’t remember the last time only one candidate showed up at the NRA meeting during an election year and had the place all to himself. Usually there are still a few candidates in the Republican Presidential race by the time the NRA hoopla rolls around, but the field was so weak this year that a totally-artificial candidate was able to blow everyone else out of the water before he even knew who was going to be his opponent on the other side.
Why do I call Trump artificial? Because no matter which audience he stands in front of, he tells them exactly what he thinks they want to hear. If it’s a rally in the Rust Belt he’ll tell them that he’s bringing back all those jobs from Mexico except for the jobs created by the company that manufactures the clothes he sells; if it’s an auditorium full of Evangelicals he’ll misquote a biblical text; if it’s the disarmed NRA audience he’ll tell them that he loves the fact that they all can carry guns.
Things have really gotten to a sorry state when The New York Times finds a pandering, stump speech by a politician, any politician, newsworthy enough for the front page. It might be worth a mention somewhere in the paper if the person delivering the remarks actually said something important, or controversial, or even new. But I listened to every word that Trump sputtered over some 34 minutes and what was most interesting to me about his speech was that he really didn’t say anything at all.
He told the audience that ‘crooked Hillary’ was going to abolish the 2nd Amendment and take away all the guns. That’s new news? He also mentioned at least ten times that guns make people feel safe. Gee, that’s an insight I never heard before. And at the tail end of the spiel he started babbling on about how he was going to fix this, fix that, build a wall, make new trade deals, get rid of Obama-care and, of course, no Trump speech would be complete without at least one reference to those ‘terrible people,’ a.k.a. the news media, who really are terrible if they think that this warmed-over mess of stale, rhetorical cuchifritos deserved to be on Page One.
The only difference between the NRA Leadership Forum event and any other Trump rally is that the Grump’s campaign didn’t have to pay for the hall. Just as well, since despite all the polls which show him even or ahead of Hillary, the real news today is the number of major conservative donors who aren’t planning to bankroll the Trumper at all. Which is why I found it almost comical when Trump, at the beginning of his remarks, said how ‘honored’ he was to be endorsed for President by the NRA. Fat lot of good the NRA endorsement did for McCain in 2008 or for Romney in 2012.
Does anyone out there really believe that Hillary isn’t counting votes that might come her way because of her ‘tough’ stance on guns? Challenging the Republicans over expanded background checks won’t hurt her with women, with minorities, with new immigrants, with just about any demographic except White men. Which happen to be the only group that is consistently and fervently in lockstep with the NRA when it comes to more regulation of guns.
And this is the real significance of the NRA’s endorsement of Trump because the only people who would have noticed that foul-mouth Ted Nugent’s ‘Do or Die for America’s Freedom’ performance was cancelled in Louisville are the same people who will vote the red ticket no matter whose name is at the top. The NRA’s support for Trump has no more value than Hillary getting the nod from the NAACP. And being in love with the 2nd Amendment won’t get Trump anything more than the same-old, same-old white man vote that he already owns.