Political Animal


June 13, 2012 11:51 AM The Fast and Furious Dog Whistle

By Ed Kilgore

If you are puzzled by the ever-intensifying obsession among conservatives with “getting” Attorney General Eric Holder—now involving a threatened House contempt of Congress motion, and calls for his resignation from leading GOP senators—Think Progress’ Ian Millhiser has a reminder of what the yelling over the ATF’s “Fast and Furious” operation is really “about:”

Perhaps the most bizarre aspect of this affair is what [Rep. Darrell] Issa once suggested his investigation will uncover. In an interview with Sean Hannity, Issa claimed that the Obama administration “made a crisis” when they continued the Bush-era gunrunning operations because they wanted to “us[e] this crisis to somehow take away or limit people’s Second Amendment rights.” This accusation originates from a former militiaman who supports violent resistance to imagined government attempts to seize his guns. And it amounts to an accusation that a series of botched gun stings that begun during the Bush Administration were actually part of a secret Obama plot to release guns to Mexican drug lords, so that those guns could then be used to kill federal agents, which would then cause a national uprising in support of gun control.

So at the most basic level, the effort to take down Holder isn’t just a garden-variety gambit aimed at blaming a Cabinet member and an administration for a botched operation hatched by underlings as part of a “gunwalking” tactic developed during the Bush administration. It’s part of the broader claim on the Right that Obama is secretly plotting to take away everybody’s guns. There is zero, absolutely zero, evidence for any Obama “assault on the Second Amendment,” which is precisely why people like Issa have to cook up a theory this crazy. Beneath all the talk is yet another sharp dog whistle to “the base.”

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • T2 on June 13, 2012 11:59 AM:

    hummm....I never heard of that "plot", that's pretty wacky and indicates the Nut Right have a high regard for Obama's ability to devise a clever plot. I figured the "dog whistle" in effect here is 1) Holder works for Obama 2) both are Black.

  • jjm on June 13, 2012 12:07 PM:

    How baroque can they get, and still expect the public to follow their twisted ideas let alone approve them? Just hypothesizing an Obama plot against the second Amendment is a non-starter for anyone but the nuttiest gun nuts, given his actual record.

  • j_h_r on June 13, 2012 12:10 PM:

    well, the NRA has been saying for what seems like years now (I'm paraphrasing here) that the Obama administration's complete lack of domestic gun control efforts is only clear evidence that he's going to open up a can of Second Amendment violating-whoopass in his second term.

    Or, put more succinctly (and with apparently no irony by the NRA), he's just lulling you into a false sense of security.

    (Captcha: 352 sumasses O_o)

  • Anonymous on June 13, 2012 12:11 PM:

    Evidence?? Evidence??? We don't need no stinkin' evidence...we're Teabaggers! Just do as we say, and no one will get hurt...

  • c u n d gulag on June 13, 2012 12:17 PM:

    And then... AND THEN, when Obama has the NRA members guns, he's GOING TO REDITRIBuTE THEM TO HIS PALS IN THE NEW BLACK PANTHERS!!!
    OMG - This is "KILL WHITEY!" writ large!!!

    Yes, it's true!

    It HAS to be true - I read it on a Conservative blog!!!

    Jesus looked at the STOOOOOOPID in America - and wept...

  • Hedda Peraz on June 13, 2012 12:36 PM:

    All "Plots" are not political:
    During the 2008 campaign there were rumors flying that Obama was going to somehow confiscate teh guns. Gun sales went thru the roof.
    Who would carry out this plan is never said; most cops, ATF agents, FBI, etc are very conservative and probably vote Republican.

    Then the rumor was ammo would be outlawed. Bullet sales went thru the roof.

    Maybe it was the guns and ammo makers behind the rumors?

  • Peter C on June 13, 2012 12:40 PM:

    The Republican base is terrified of Holder because they fear he will be as political as Gonzales or Ashcroft. They loved having an ideological zealot in charge of Justice because they care more about their ideology than they do about justice. They also fear Holder because he's black, and if they had been victimized as much a blacks have been victimized, they would abuse their power if they themselves were the head of the Justice Department. They can't trust Holder because they wouldn't be trustworthy in his place.

    The Republicans whole sales job on their base requires that Obama (and Holder) be scary and thus a threat. Since they aren't, the Republicans have to make things up and invent contraversy. This requires a highly-placed person lacking in morals. Issa is perfect for this.

  • Josef K on June 13, 2012 12:49 PM:

    Beneath all the talk is yet another sharp dog whistle to “the base.”

    The problem with rabid dogs is that they're rabid; that is, brain-damaged, murderously violent and inherently uncontrollable.

    And Issa and company think their pack is going to go back on their leash after they've been let loose?

    This is going to get bad.

  • boatboy_srq on June 13, 2012 1:01 PM:

    @Hedda: I'm wondering how many law enforcement professionals are remaining Conservatist after the hijinks of Gov. Voldemort and his ilk. He's pro-law-enforcement - just ask any Fl Hwy Patrolperson (or an only-barely-not-a-Sheriff-TYVMMrScott).

    @Peter C: No, they're terrified of Holder because they expect he already is as political as Gonzalez or Ashcroft.

  • TCinLA on June 13, 2012 1:06 PM:

    "The base" - in Arabic, that's Al Qaeda. Instead of calling them "American Taliban," which gives them a certain legitimacy, we should start calling them the American Al Qaeda (terrorists and traitors, which is an accurate description of your usual wingnut).

  • osceola on June 13, 2012 1:18 PM:

    This is a staple of Alex Jones' radio show and his Infowars site. And that nut has at least two million listeners! (I listen for comedy purposes only.)

  • boatboy_srq on June 13, 2012 1:43 PM:

    @Hedda - it isn't every industry that can write off it's marketing campaigns as charitable donations to non-profits.

  • Josef K on June 13, 2012 1:47 PM:

    This "Contempt of Congress" motion seems pretty ridiculous as well. I'll wager it'll never be brought to an actual vote, though I do kinda-sorta hope it is. Speaker Boehner hasn't managed to embarrass himself in nearly a week; he's overdue for some further humiliation.

  • thebewilderness on June 13, 2012 1:59 PM:

    There is also the matter of Issa having been briefed by the Bush administration on the matter now trying to scapegoat this AG for what he is complicit in approving.

  • David in NY on June 13, 2012 2:04 PM:

    We did pretty well labeling the "birthers" as, well, "birthers" and making that label indicate the craziness of it all.

    Have we got an equally good name for the gun seizure theorists?

  • mattoqp on June 13, 2012 2:22 PM:

    Republicans have really gone after a few members of the Obama administration: President Obama himself, the First Lady, Eric Holder, Van Jones and Shirley Sherrod. (I can't think of anyone else, but maybe I missed someone).

    What do all of these people have in common? Yes, that's right. And I don't believe in coincidences.

  • Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage on June 13, 2012 2:25 PM:

    You understand the worst part of this is the number of people who have to be told that the accusations are simply crazy.

    In a time when the insane have the ear of a third of the nation any insanity is likely to spill over to reality in the form of witch hunts and bad law.

  • Peter C on June 13, 2012 2:26 PM:

    @ David in NY asks: Have we got an equally good name for the gun seizure theorists?

    We could call them 'the young guns' and step on the Cantor-Ryan meme.

  • Laura on June 13, 2012 2:30 PM:

    Holder should hand over the documents. Prove Issa is full of s*** by making everything public about this stupid Bush-initiated plan.

  • berttheclock on June 13, 2012 3:17 PM:

    This AM in a Senate committee hearing, Senator Cornyn (R-TX) told Attorney General Holder to his face that he should resign. Holder, to his credit, stood his ground and told Cornyn he had no intention of resigning.

  • boatboy_srq on June 13, 2012 3:49 PM:

    @David in NY: "2nd Amendment Remedials"?

    @berttheclock: Would have been excessively disrespectful for Holder to suggest that he'd consider resignation, if and only if McConnell resigned first out of dereliction of duty?

  • smartalek on June 13, 2012 9:57 PM:

    "Have we got an equally good name for the gun seizure theorists?"

    I'd say "Republicans" would do.
    It's been suggested that the reason there are now so many more self-identified "independents" is that they're actually traditionally Republican voters who are now just too ashamed to call themselves by that name.
    This suggests that there are significant numbers of their voters who might actually be reachable and persuadable -- IF they were approached properly, by a party and/or individuals that could make a credible, compelling, and convincing case that their interests would actually be properly and reliably understood and represented, and when necessary, fought for.
    Too bad there are so few individuals, and not one national party that I can think of, that can seriously make such a claim...
    ...and even if there were, the corporate media would either demolish, or possibly worse, utterly ignore them.

  • Grant on June 14, 2012 2:50 PM:

    There are sure a whole lot of people with their heads in the sand around here.
    You want gun control and you get a promise from your fearless leader that he will have to do it "under the radar." Then we get a new program which allows felons and others who can't pass an FBI instant check to purchase large numbers of firearms. Gun shops who resisted the ATF plan were coerced into cooperation because the ATF can make their lives hell just for the fun of it. Then large numbers of these firearms start moving south into Mexico, and the ATF doesn't even bother to follow them. Then these firearms are used in murders, including a Border Patrol agent, Brian Terry, and the firearms are traced to these questionable sales. Suddenly there is a jump in firearms deaths in Mexico traced to these firearms, and a hue and cry comes up that the gun stores near the border need to be controlled and the number of firearms sold limited. When evidence comes out from ATF whistleblowers who are sick of the charade, ATF starts attacking the whistleblowers. When the Mexican media and government wake up and start investigating, there is no mention in the complicit American media because the demonization of firearms suits their prejudices and agenda.
    There would be no independent America without privately owned firearms, and the battle at Lexington and Concord developed because the British were intent upon confiscating the powder and shot which belonged to the Colonial Militia.
    For all that you hate Hitler, and so do I, you seem to find an ally in gun control. All tyrants start with gun control and confiscation, and then proceed to genocide against the disarmed victims. Gun control advocates are really helping tyrants and causing more victims, while convincing themselves that they love peace. I suppose that the victims have now found peace at the hands of tyrants but those who are still being threatened are not living in peace.
    Switzerland is the best armed country, and the most peaceful, while England has seen a marked increase in violence and murder since greater restrictions have been placed on firearms ownership.
    When there is more sympathy for the criminals than for the victims, you are living in an asylum.

  • Stranger on June 14, 2012 3:42 PM:

    What the Fast and Furious flap is all about is simple enough. There are at least 300 Mexican citizens who have been killed with weapons provided to the NarcoCartels through the good offices of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. The Mexican media says up to 400 Mexicans are dead. So are two American law enforcement officers. The act of providing those weapons broke numerous American laws.

    Under Mexican law, the Cartels are "in rebellion." Under US law,providing arms to a foreign revolutionary group may be treason. And all of this leads straight to Mr. Eric Holder.

    Now, all that is simple enough. Where it gets complicated is when America's elected officials and the American media willfully protect criminal activity by a high official of the United States government. Which should be a crime in itself.


  • Marc Valdez on June 14, 2012 5:21 PM:

    No, the GOP is mad about the Obama Administration providing arms to the Sinaloa Cartel because it wants to continue its current policy unmolested of using gun shows and related means to provide arms to Los Zetas Cartel. Darrel Issa and and the GOP are determined that if anyone is going to benefit from Treason it's going to be the GOP, not the Democrats!