A couple of nights ago Megadeth founder Dave Mustaine, last seen in the mortifying Metallica documentary Some Kind of Monster groveling/mending fences with Lars Ulrich 20 years after being kicked out of the band for excessive debauchery — quite a feat in a band once known to friends as “Alcoholica” — made some controversial comments onstage with Megadeth in Singapore.
Megadeth is one of those bands that’s been around forever but who no one seems to like. I am certainly no stranger to metal, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard a Megadeth song. The only thing I know about them is that Mustaine started the band when he got kicked out of Metallica, and that they are credited with bringing political awareness to thrash metal, on the strength of their 1987 album Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?
I never gave much thought to what Mustaine’s political point of view might be on that or any of his subsequent records. Turns out it is somewhere to the right of Timothy McVeigh.
“My president is trying to pass a gun ban, so he’s staging all of these murders,” Mustaine told the crowd, and then went on to list the Aurora massacre, the Sikh temple massacre, and the “Fast & Furious” operation in Mexico as examples.
I have to wonder what Dave means by “staging.” Does he mean that these murders were faked, like the moon landing? Was no one actually killed in Colorado? Or in the Sikh temple? Or maybe Dave means that the president arranged these massacres, like Bush arranged 9/11? Either way, it’s clear who the bad guy is in these tragedies: President Barack Obama.
Obviously, both suggestions are insane and not even worth discussing (as are those about the moon landing and 9/11, I should add in case your sarcasm detector is low on batteries), but either way, Dave is voicing an extreme version of a common Right-wing opinion: Barack Obama has a radical secret anti-gun agenda all set up and ready to go the moment public opinion swings his way. The NRA has devoted itself for the last 20 years to screaming this message from the rooftops: The Democrats are coming to take your guns! It’s the organizing principle of all the NRA’s fundraising and voter turnout drives, and it’s worked out great for the GOP.
The thing is, there is no secret gun control agenda. It’s a political nonstarter and it always has been. For a variety of reasons ranging from silly to totally legitimate, there’s not a swing state in the Union that would go blue if serious gun reform on a national level were part of the Dems’ platform, and any Democrat running for national office is smart enough to stay away from the issue completely. (Obama never mentioned it at all during the 2008 campaign.) Even if they’d like to, and I’m sure a lot of Democrats would, they will never, ever make any real move toward gun control. I feel as secure making this prediction as I would predicting that the sun will rise tomorrow and that the Knicks will be terrible again this year.
How can I be so sure? First, because of the political reality I just described. Americans, particularly the ones who live outside big cities, love guns, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. Second, because Obama, whose top adviser was once quoted as saying the administration should “never let a crisis go to waste,” has not said a single word (A SINGLE WORD) about gun control, even after an obvious head case marched into a movie theater armed to the teeth with legally purchased weapons and opened fire. Nor did he say a word about it when a congresswoman was shot in the head in a parking lot. Or when a group of people were shot in their place of worship. If there was ever going to be a moment where the public might be inclined toward some gun control, we are right in the middle of it, and Obama has not (and will not, mark my words) made even a nod in that direction.
The Democrats are generally a pretty pathetic bunch, in terms of strategy and messaging and purchasing suits that fit. But give them this: at least they focus their opposition on reality. They’re worried that Republicans will try and privatize Social Security — imagine for a moment how that would have worked out in the fall of 2008 when the banks collapsed — because Republicans tried to privatize Social Security. Campaigned on it, published papers about it, and George W. Bush made it his first priority in his second term. Democrats worry that Republicans want to deregulate the banking industry, despite the clear result of lax regulation in the fall of 2008, because Republicans are out there campaigning on it right now. Democrats worry that Republicans will drive up the national debt, because they are promising reduced revenue without specifying any offsetting spending cuts. Democrats worry that Republicans want to start a war in Iran because they can’t stop talking about it, and because they just did it in Iraq ten years ago.
On the other hand, all of Republicans’ worries about what Democrats want to do seem to be based on guesses and extrapolations and their imaginations and their nightmares, and are frequently in direct contradiction to their actual deeds: Obama’s a Socialist! (A Socialist who saved the largest Capitalist enterprise in the history of this nation, General Motors.) He hates bankers and wants to put them out of business! (Prosecutions against the executives responsible for the banking crisis: zero.) He wants the Government to take over health care! (But he still bent over backward to keep the for-profit insurance model in place.) He wants to kill your grandma! He wants to give full amnesty to illegal immigrants! He wants to, he wants to, he wants to.
Dear Republicans: There are genuine and substantive differences between your positions and those of the Democrats. They do not require embroidery or embellishment. For example: given the required majorities, the Democrats will raise upper-bracket tax rates from 36% to 39%. We know this because a) they’ve said so repeatedly and b) they’ve done it before (1992-2000, which we all remember as the worst economic period of the last… wait, let me check my dates.). Please do us all the favor of focusing your campaigns and your rhetoric and your misspelled signs on those real differences, so that we might have intelligent and informed debates on the issues and, with a little luck, perseverance, and goodwill, perhaps form a more perfect union.
Or you can just keep making shit up. Whatever.