The Las Vegas massacre is bringing forth strong criticism of the gun lobby, as it should do, from the liberal media and coastal Democrats. Judy Woodruff grilled Oklahoma Senator James Lankford last night on the PBS News Hour, saying that the gun lobby has way more power than it should have and can run politicians out of town.
Senator, as you know, there is a lot of conversation about how powerful the National Rifle Association and other organizations that support gun rights are in this country and in the city of Washington. How much power do they have? Because it’s been said that, not just Republicans, even Democrats are afraid to go up against the gun lobby, for fear that they will run somebody against them, will oppose them, that it is just a — that the power they have is way beyond what it should be.
The night before Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut slammed the grip of the gun lobby:
The major obstacle to commonsense measures, like background checks and the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and bump-stocks, and closing a number of the loopholes that enable domestic violence, which is a major cause of death as a result of gun violence, is very simply to break the grip of the NRA.
We must break the grip of the NRA, which will be done through mobilizing the American people.
Former Long Island congressman Steve Israel is even stronger:
I was in Congress for 16 years and I saw first hand why Congress will never do anything about gun violence. The gun lobby is far more successful than those of us who believe in commonsense gun safety laws. It outmobilizes us, it outflanks us, it outspends us, it out-organizes us. They have these legislative score cards, and they make sure that everyone in that district knows how their member voted… They figure out who in a particular district is motivated to vote, based on a member of Congress’s or a candidate’s record on guns. Most members of the NRA, particularly in my own district, agree that crazy people shouldn’t be able to buy assault weapons, but it’s the leadership of the gun lobby that has to kowtow to the gun manufacturers funds their salaries that has so warped virulently this entire issue.
But Steve Israel never said a word about the Israel lobby, even as he stood up for Israel in Congress, voted for the Iraq war, and raised money from pro-Israel sources when he ran the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Then Israel left Congress and wrote a long lament in the New York Times last year about how much time he spent raising money; but he never mentioned pro-Israel money in that lament. As Scott Roth noted about Steve Israel’s gun-lobby-speech:
Aipac’s former point man in the House explains how nefarious lobbies can be.
Blumenthal is no better. He is a co-sponsor of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which would criminalize some forms of free speech against Israel.
The Israel lobby is just as organized, bipartisan, shrewd, and indifferent to the rank and file as the gun lobby. Its effects are also sinister: it has prevented any mainstream American criticism of Israel’s colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which destroyed the prospect of a Palestinian state. It promoted the Iraq war, that calamity. It has sought to defeat the Iran deal, the signature achievement of a Democratic president, with powerful Democrats on its side.
As Stephanie Schriock of Emily’s List explained, at J Street, Democratic congressional hopefuls have to get money from the “Jewish community,” but before they go to that community they have to go to AIPAC, the Israel lobby group, and get a position on the Middle East.
You thought about where you are going to go to raise the money that you needed to raise to win a race. And you went to labor, you went to the choice community, and you went to the Jewish community. But before you went to the Jewish community, you had a conversation with the lead AIPAC person in your state and they made it clear that you needed a paper on Israel. And so you called all of your friends who already had a paper on Israel – that was designed by AIPAC – and we made that your paper.
It’s straightforward. And politicians get run out of town for crossing the lobby. And the media never talk about it.
(Of course it’s not just about money. It’s a historical question of considerable weight. It’s about the Jewish question of many centuries-standing in Europe resolved after the Holocaust in western support for militant Jewish nationalism in Palestine. And to oppose that resolution is anti-Semitic…. That is what stops Judy Woodruff from asking hard questions about the Israel lobby. But the organized Jewish community makes sure to shut her up about this, and zealots like Steve Israel enforce the omerta.)