I would probably be remiss as a so called pragmatist if I didn’t explain my take on the political situation surrounding the Holder confirmation.Â I should note that it is very important that folks contact their Senators and express their concerns about Holder, and ask them to oppose his nomination.Â The reason it’s important is because it lets our representatives know we’re out here, and that we have a lot of concerns about the upcoming administration.Â I also don’t think there’s any harm in NRA members calling NRA to tell them what they think.Â I would welcome the NRA getting involved in trying to defeat the confirmation of Eric Holder for Attorney General, but I believe that involvement unlikely.Â What I will try to explain is why this is unlikely, and why it’s not unreasonable, lazy, or cowardly for NRA to decide the upside to opposition might not be worth the downside.
It’s not unheard of for a nominee to be rejected by the Senate, but it’s rare.Â Even rarer from The President’s own party.Â If you look at how large the Democratic majority in The Senate is, it is extremely unlikely that Eric Holder will not be the next Attorney General, short of him being caught with a dead girl, or a live boy.Â You can call me defeatist all you want, but that’s reality.Â Republicans and the braver blue dogs can ask tough questions, hew and haw, and rake Holder over the coals, but they are not likely to have the votes to outright defeat his nomination.Â Late in 2007, we had a similar issue with the Sullivan nomination, and I would note that the Bush Administration is now ending with Michael Sullivan still director of ATF.Â He was never confirmed, because allies in the Senate put his nomination on hold, but he remains Acting Director of BATFE to this day.
The NRA is probably in the most precarious political situation it’s seen itself in since 1994.Â We have the mother of all battles coming.Â If you look at things from their point of view, you would look at the risk/reward equation in the following manner:
- Getting the grass roots fired up over Holder, who appropriately makes a good villian.
- Letting politicians know NRA’s membership is not happy with Holder.
- Letting Holder know NRA and their membership are unhappy with his record, and are skeptical of his appointment.
- Pleasing membership who expects NRA to fight everything.
- Very remote chance of defeating the confirmation.
- Holder will try to get back at NRA for their public opposition to his confirmation.Â NRA will be shut out from working with anyone, even friendly people who might be holdovers, in the Department of Justice for the next four years.
- NRA throws its political weight behind defeating Holder, is ultimately unsuccessful, and signals the Obama Administration that NRA can’t oppose it.
- Distracting membership from bigger fights looming on the horizon, like a new Assault Weapons Ban, Gun Show Loophole, and other gun control wish items, which might be winnable.
- By not getting involved, upsetting membership who wants Holder defeated.
- If against all odds, Holder is actually defeated, the strong likelihood Obama will nominate someone just as bad.
It’s perfectly reasonable to believe NRA should get involved with the fight against Holder, but it’s also perfectly reasonable for NRA to see a lot of risk for not much chance of benefit too.Â When you and I act against Holder independently, it has no downside, because we are not creatures of DC, and don’t have to worry about perceptions of our political capital. The National Rifle Association does not have the same luxury.Â They have to very carefully weigh which fights they need to wage.Â There will be times when it is necessary to fight with no hope of victory, but members should ask themselves whether they’d rather have NRA go down swinging trying unsuccessfully to defeat Holder, enhancing the paper tiger meme, or whether they’d prefer NRA preserve its political capital to defeat gun control bills?
Before someone suggests, “But all we’re asking for is a membership alert,” the other things NRA doesn’t have the luxury of is half measures.Â It will become known that NRA alerted its members, and NRA will incur many of the risks outlined above.Â They either need to poop, or get off the pot.Â This is actually an area where GOA, JPFO, Firearms Coalition, blogs, and forums can be of tremendous help, because they can speak on issues, like this, that are very risky for NRA.Â Like I said, I would welcome NRA’s involvement, if they decide the risk is worth the reward, but I won’t blame them if they don’t see it that way.