Sunday, January 06, 2013

Worst Democrat of the Day: Heidi Heitkamp, pro-NRA gun nut

By Michael J.W. Stickings

When it comes to elections to legislative bodies, partisans often just count the numbers: Do we have more they they do? In a way, that's all that matters.

And so it was for Democrats back in November. We wanted to keep the Senate, and perhaps even to pick up a seat or two, and that meant supporting Democrats who weren't exactly progressive. It was the party affiliation that mattered, just like it is for sports fans rooting for the jersey.

Heidi Heitkamp, running to keep retiring Byron Dorgan's North Dakota seat on our side of the ledger, was one of those Democrats. She won, and we cheered her victory if only because it meant another Democratic seat, and even if she wasn't all that great, at least the Republicans didn't take it.

Now, to be sure, you have to put up with less progressive Democrats, or even anti-progressive ones, if you want to win in solidly red states like North Dakota. And furthermore, Heitkamp was preferable by far to her Republican opponent, the far-right Rick Berg -- I suppose even a generally conservative Democrat like Heitkamp is (usually) better than a Republican.

But that really doesn't make it all okay, and her comments about, and against, gun control this morning only serve to prove the point that there are some awful Democrats out there.

As George Stephanopoulos reports:

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D, told me this morning on "This Week" that while all options should be on the table to address gun violence, President Obama's reported plans to curb shootings are "way in extreme" when I pressed her this morning on the kinds on measures she could potentially support.

"I think you need to put everything on the table, but what I hear from the administration – and if the Washington Post is to be believed – that's way, way in extreme of what I think is necessary or even should be talked about. And it's not going to pass," said Heitkamp, a member of the National Rifle Association.

Heitkamp, who has an "A" rating from the NRA and was elected in a state that Gov. Mitt Romney won by nearly 20 points, stressed the importance of addressing mental health as part of the effort to curb violent shootings.

There's no denying that mental health needs to addressed far more seriously than it is now, but the gun nuts (and anyone who gets an 'A' from the NRA is a nut, and worse) are just using it to divert attention away from the problem at hand:

"Let's start addressing the problem. And to me, one of the issues that I think comes, screams out of this is the issue of mental health and the care for the mentally ill in our country, especially the dangerously mentally ill," she said. "And, so, we need to have a broad discussion before we start talking about gun control."

What she's really saying is that there should be a broad discussion that goes nowhere instead of gun control. Period. And while Heitkamp herself may be sincere in wanting to address mental health, the reality is that nothing is going to happen: there isn't going to be significantly more money to deal with it. What's more, it's stupid to suggest that the problem of gun violence is just a problem of mental health, as if everyone who commits a violent act with a gun is just deranged. Aside from the huge problem of identifying the mentally ill and specifically those who may potentially commit a violent act, there's the fact that a lot of gun violence is committed by people who would appear to be quite sane.

Anyway, Heitkamp's argument is ridiculous. The Obama administration may be planning to introduce more comprehensive gun control than just another assault weapon ban, but by all reports what they're panning is hardly "way in extreme": background checks, mental health checks, tougher penalties, and perhaps (though unlikely) a national database to track certain weapons. This is only "extreme" if you're a gun nut, if you've sold your soul to the NRA and everything it represents (which is the gun industry more than gun owners), if you think that any and all gun control is an attack on your freedom, that is, if you yourself are deranged.

There will be occasions when Heitkamp's vote will make a difference and when it will be good to have her seat occupied by a "Democrat." But on this key issue at least, she's fully with the crazies, and that makes her one of the worst Democrats on Capitol Hill.

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  • Just keep talking this way folks. You are presenting your true colors for all of America to see. Enjoy it while you can. Go ahead and badmouth my senator for her stand on gun control, but I support her stand, and I didn't vote for her eather.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:17 AM  

  • Heidi is a disgrace, As a result of this vote, this will be her last run as a Senator. She has let the American people down. This is another case of someone looking out for their job and not the welfare of the American people. She has shirked her responsibilities and so has lost her right to represent. Her career in the Senate is over before it begins.

    By Blogger Chow Chick, at 7:04 AM  

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