It’s been something I’ve been wondering, but I think Palin’s addition to the ticket might change things. I still lean toward the idea that McCain is not worthy of an endorsement, but then I think how much is on the line this election. McCain is far from perfect, but I think it should be considered in the following light:
- Gerald Ford never met a “reasonable gun law” he didn’t support, and is responsible for Stevens being on The Court.
- Ronald Reagan favored the enactment of the Brady Act, but also nominated Kennedy and Scalia to The Court.
- George H.W. Bush, who was Reagan’s VP before becoming president, issued an executive order to ban so called assault weapons using his powers under the GCA of 1968. While he put Souter on The Court, he also put Justice Thomas.
- Bob Dole did not receive an NRA endorsement in 1996 because of his stance on the Clinton gun ban, and lost to Bill Clinton.
- George W. Bush favored re-enacting the assault weapons ban. Granted, his VP pick was pretty good, but Dick Cheney is a duck gun kind of guy. Bush’s Solicitor General worked against us in Heller, but he put Roberts and Alito on The Court.
- McCain favors regulating private sales, but Palin is pretty solidly pro-gun, and is a hunter and NRA life member. Unlike a lot of other politicians, he’s not afraid to oppose an assault weapons ban. He’s picked up a lot of obscure pro-gun candidates and put them front and center on the public stage.
I’m not saying NRA should endorse McCain, but I’m not going to freak out if they do. In terms of previous Republican presidents, McCain is really no worse, and may even be better. I have no idea which way NRA is leaning in terms of an endorsement, but I’m willing to accept either course of action. An endorsement has serious political consequences for how people on the ground may help his campaign. While I wish McCain would repudiate his stance on private sales, gun owners have been able to make progress with a very imperfect endorsed presidential candidates from the 1980s to now. I worry that ceding the White House to Barack Obama will cause us to lose everything we’ve worked on for the past decade.