This may end up being a Philosophy 101 question. Should someone (or an organization) be criticized for their intentions or on the results of their actions? If they were being very clever and defeated the bill we should praise them. If they were just looking out for the short term and got lucky with the same result should we be critical of them?
Let me start off by saying I don’t think any of this was some devious plot by NRA. There’s too many unknowns at work they couldn’t have predicted ahead of time. But in conflict, any kind of conflict, engaging with your opponent yields important information. It forces him to react. In most conflict, the victor is often not the smartest player in the game, but the player who makes the fewest mistakes. Philosophically, I think you have to look at intent. But what was NRA’s intent?
Boiled down to one sentence it was “If we’re subject to this bill, we’re going to oppose it.” That forced the enemy, in this case, Pelosi and Van Hollen, to react. They reacted poorly, first by rejecting Shuler’s proposal to exempt all 501(c)(4) advocacy groups, which would include NRA and nearly everyone else. Second in floating aÂ blatantlyÂ transparent deal that exempted pretty much only NRA, that had the effect of pissing everyone else off enough to actually do something in opposition to the bill. NRA engaged the enemy, and they made mistakes. The entire chain of events was set in motion by NRA’s initial opposition to DISCLOSE. If the bill goes down to defeat, which is looking increasingly likely, I think it would be unfair not to give NRA credit for its defeat. It was the NRA’s opposition to the bill that forced the Democrats to make mistakes.
PerhapsÂ it could be argued that NRA making public pronouncements about not opposing DISCLOSE with Van Hollen’s amendment was a mistake. There’s an argument to be made. I don’t think many historians would argue that our carrier tactics in the Battle of the Coral Sea were all that up to stuff, but it’s still widely considered an American win because we were the side that made fewer mistakes. Strategically, the implications of that conflict played out in our favor. So I don’t think it’s any less correct to credit NRA with defeating DISCLOSE than it would be to say the U.S. Navy won the Battle of the Coral Sea.