Eugene Robinson Live (Feb. 27)

Eugene Robinson
Feb 27, 2018

Read Eugene's latest: Don’t let the absurd ploy to arm teachers distract you

Hello, everybody, and welcome once again to our regular therapy session. Wait, was that President Trump I just saw rushing into a burning building to save a cute little puppy? It's just like the time he took down that school shooter, acting on pure instinct even though he was unarmed. That's how it all happened in his dreams, that is. Trump has all these totally unrealistic action-movie fantasies, it seems. They didn't inspire him to serve in Vietnam -- those bone spurs must have been agonizing -- but they do apparently make him think arming classroom teachers is not the worst idea in modern history. Which it is. My column today suggests Trump's idea (which he may really believe) is being used by the GOP and the NRA as a distraction from the real discussion we should be having: about guns. Let's get started.

Here's a related idea to having armed teachers; why not train police officers to become teachers instead?

I'm sure some police officer would be excellent teachers. Some would not. But let me be clear: THIS WHOLE IDEA OF GUNS IN THE CLASSROOM IS INSANE. The solution to gun violence is not more guns. What works is fewer guns. At the very least, we should ban assault rifles. Now.

This isnt really a question. I agree with you that voting is critical, particularly in the elections this year. However, just voting is not sufficient. We need to be involved in and working towards getting out the vote (GOTV). There are many grassroots organizations working towards this, but people may not be aware of them. Please let people know about this. There are phone banks and texting which work - see the number of elections this year where dems have beaten the republicans in red states, a big focus this year. Voting is a one-time thing, but a working democracy demands more, particularly in these perilous times. It doesnt take much, maybe just 2 hours a week or whenever it suits people's availability. Please join us in promoting the importance of voting that you so eloquently advocate. dolores heeb 

Very well said. I cannot overemphasize the importance of November's election. Young people and minorities, in particular, tend not to vote in sufficient numbers in midterm elections -- and we all pay the price. Polls show that enthusiasm is on the side of the Democrats. That enthusiasm has to be transformed into actual voting, which requires lots of hard work by organizers and volunteers. Please do as Dolores urges and get to work. Now.

How come all you do is bash in your columns? Cant you offer any solutions? How do you write from a one-point-of view stance? See, you and others like you are what is our problem in this country and what is holding us back to a higher ground!

I just offered a solution -- the same one I offer regularly in my column: We need to elect a Congress that will hold this administration accountable.

Bash,bash, bash no real solutions from you. How come you didn’t mention the FBI’s dropping the ball? Or maybe the pussy cops that didn’t run in to help? Where’s your facts man? Just blame on Trump! That’s the easy way out! You don’t believe it’s anything to do with mental health, desensitization, loss of nuclear family, violent video games, social media and Hollywood glorification of guns! Your boy Obama was no saint either, he just did it more quietly, don’t kid yourself, no one has our best interest at heart! I don’t read your articles because your writing is based on left wing lunacy. No common sense!

If you don't read my columns, how do you know what they say?

I don't know that there's anything you say to this, but I've long been bothered by the press (i.e., Post, NYTimes, etc.) continuing to refer to the Right as it's currently constituted as "Conservative." I can't think of a single thing about them that fits the mold of Conservative as propounded by people from William Buckley, Norman Podhoretz, etc., up through Reagan, Kristol, and others (including my college roommate). I disagreed with them on nearly everything, but I had no doubt they were serious and rational. The Right we've got now uses the anti-government, fiscally responsible, and traditional values language of Conservativism, but embodies none of these things. We've recently seen Max Boot, Mona Charen, Bill Kristol, George Wills, and others, dissociate themselves from the new Right. I'm wondering: Is it time for the serious media to stop referring to Trump, Ryan, Cruz, CPAC, LaPierre, et al., as "Conservative" and find some other term to replace it? I don't know what that word might be (though several impolite possibilities come to mind), but it seems to me that continuing to call them Conservative lends them a status and a history they don't deserve at all. They've usurped the name. I don't believe them serious media should abet them.

You raise a good point. Who gets custody of the label "conservative"? The heirs to Buckley or the rabid crowd we saw at CPAC last week? Maybe we need a new name for the Joe Arpaios and Wayne LaPierres of the world.

So the gun apologists are now blaming the sheriff, the FBI, etc. for missing all the signs that the Parkland shooter was unstable and shouldn't have guns. But, if his guns had been taken away before he ever did anything, imagine what they would have said and done. They would have sued on his behalf, raised money on the specter of government confiscation of guns, and on and on and on. How do people with such contradictory thoughts in their heads even function day to day?

If your starting point is that no act of violence can ever be blamed on the ubiquity and availability of guns, you have to find all sorts of other things to blame. What the failure of multiple authorities in this case really shows is the absurdity of thinking every threat can be identified and neutralized before it's too late. There are a lot of angry, unstable people out there. No dragnet is going to catch them all.

Gene— I saw a segment Sunday night about Trump considering his personal pilot for subject job. This is a terrible idea. Why wouldn’t they consider a captain from one of our nations big airlines?? This person will have far more knowledge of how the world of air travel works. Trump is acting like MC Hammer when he was sliding toward bankruptcy since he insisted on having his friends as a paid entourage.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any crazier...

Why isn't there a counter organization to the NRA? An organization for those who want to maintain Second Amendment rights but support sensible gun control regulations and the politicians who support them. It seems that the NRA has the power because of the number of members they have of voting age and, I assume, the money they give to the organization. I still think it strange that it's harder to adopt a dog from a rescue than it is to buy a lethal weapon.

I believe that in a column I once threatened to form the Black Rifle Association and then see how long it took for Congress to pass gun control. (If I never actually wrote that, I should have.) In all seriousness, you're on the right track. What the NRA does so successfully is whip up fear and anxiety among gun owners. It then channels that intensity into politics. We need counterbalancing intensity on the side of sensible gun control. We'll get change when officials start getting voted out of office because they refuse to act to control access to guns.

As a Canadian, whom should I take my cues from regarding the American attitude to NAFTA, the administration or the President?

Your guess is as good as mine. Good luck. 

It seems less likely that the border wall will get built, and the President is famous for not backing down. Is arming teachers his way of making people forget about the wall so it can die an obscure death?

No, it's his way of keeping us from talking about gun control.

Recent news indicates that the world is getting ever nearer to an environmental apocalypse. Is there any way to turn our focus on this existential threat and away from short-term issues like which party is on the ascendancy in Washington? I have grandchildren, but I worry that they will not have the pleasure of seeing their own grandchildren grow up.,

I don't think there is any chance of getting such focus from an administration that does not believe in science. But the rest of the world is still intent on moving toward a clean-energy future, fortunately.

Arming teachers with weapons is such a colossally stupid idea that I am just speechless. My wife is a teacher and I asked her what she thought. She said, among other things . . . We can’t slap a kid but we can shoot him? We are trained to PROTECT children not kill them. Ever seen a lockdown? It can be chaos. How would anyone know whom to shoot? And one of her colleagues said, “I’m four foot ten, how would anyone know I’m not a student?” Has anyone thought of the insurance ramifications? Cost to arm these “adept” teachers? Of all the stupid, lazy and dangerous ideas this takes the cake. And make no mistake, you’re right, this is just a distraction. Because what this is about is allowing everyone to keep their guns, just insane, absolutely insane. The world watches us and wonders what the hell is going on in America.

Well said.

Hi Eugene. I have a somewhat lengthy comment so thanks in advance for allowing me to post it. Fearmongers like LaPierre who say that "the first thing that Democrats will do is get rid of the 2nd Amendment" prey on the lack of knowledge of much of the American public about the basic process of amending the Constitution. A constitutional amendment can only be repealed or changed by another constitutional amendment, which is a very difficult process. This article (quoted below) lays out how it works: "To begin, a proposed amendment must be voted approved by a 2/3 majority of both legislative bodies of the US Congress. The Proposed Amendment must then be sent to every individual State's legislature for consideration. Each state follows its own parliamentary process to arrive at a yea or nay on the Proposed Amendment. For the Proposed Amendment to become a Constitutional Amendment, 3/4 of the individual American States must vote a final yea. With the current body of States numbering 50, the required number of State ratifications to adopt the new amendment is 38. Upon the confirmation of the 38th yea, the Amendment becomes part of the Constitution, amending, or changing, whatever the subject of the amendment covers--whether it be a new cause, or eliminating an old Amendment.

Correct. I cannot imagine that the Second Amendment would be repealed. But as the Supreme Court has plainly stated, the right it protects is not absolute. We can ban assault weapons if we believe such a step is needed. We did ban them for a while, in fact, and our democracy survived.

Haven't you been impressed with the way the students of Parkland have presented themselves? What an outstanding group of articulate, thoughtful and well grounded young people. Kudos to the teachers who have done such a fine job!

I couldn't agree more. They are amazing.

Hi Gene -- Thanks for taking questions today. While I'm still waiting to see it in my paycheck, apparently some people are feeling some modest benefits from the Republican tax bill. In your view, does that change anything in terms of the perceived Democratic advantage in the upcoming election? They still lead in the polls, and Trump's approval remains in the cellar, but in this up-is-down political landscape I wonder if any measures are reliable anymore.

Who knows? Midterm election results do not always correlate with the state of the economy. I think it is clear that a majority wants to put the brakes on this runaway administration. The only question is whether enough of the people who feel that way actually bother to vote. I think intensity will be the deciding factor.

Is Trump going after Sheriff Israel so as to say that gun control is not needed--just better policing?


Do you think any gun legislation will really happen with the current make up of the Congress? And how do we overcome the control of the NRA?



Mr. Robinson, Both Wayne LaPierre and Dana Losch appeared completely unhinged with their comments at CPAC. How can normal NRA members, who pay dues only and have some understanding of reasonable gun control laws, support such individuals in leadership roles? And who really funds the NRA (besides the gun companies) to give away hundreds of millions of dollars to put forth its views? Is Koch money involved? Thanks and always look forward to reading your well-informed columns.

The NRA's campaign donations matter much less than its ratings -- its stamps of approval or disapproval. Until those who favor gun control care as intensely as those who oppose it, nothing will change.

Even under what you and I would regard as the most favorable outcome, the new Democratic controlled House and Senate wouldn't start until early 2019. What changes can be made a lot sooner (besides working on and voting in the November election)?

Not much, frankly. It's not possible to lead either house of Congress from the minority. Democrats in the Senate can obstruct, but realistically that's about it.

Which is why they'll need have a trigger lock, be in a locked case which is locked inside a gun safe - with all the keys safely in a place where no student can access them. And then if there is a shooter, the teacher can't get the gun out of the safe, case unlocked, gun unlocked, ammo unlocked and loaded into the gun and to the classroom door before everyone who is going to get shot already has been - except the teacher who then meets the shooter head on and becomes the last victim of the day.

Or the first victim, since the shooter would logically begin with the teacher, no? 

There's already an old word: fascist.

Works for me.

As a white female Democrat, I was appalled at the way Michael Steele was treated by Matt Schalpp and CPAC. Any thoughts?

The next time the Republican Party and CPAC try to claim they're not racist, we'll all have a good laugh.


That's it for today, folks. Our time is up. Thanks for participating, and I'll see you again next week!

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Eugene Robinson
Eugene Robinson is an Associate Editor and twice-weekly columnist for The Washington Post. His column appears on Tuesdays and Fridays. In a 25-year career at The Post, Robinson has been city hall reporter, city editor, foreign correspondent in Buenos Aires and London, foreign editor, and assistant managing editor in charge of the paper's award-winning Style section. In 2005, he started writing a column for the Op-Ed page. He is the author of "Coal to Cream: A Black Man's Journey Beyond Color to an Affirmation of Race" (1999) and "Last Dance in Havana" (2004). Robinson is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and has received numerous journalism awards.
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