Oh No He Didn’t!!

Hoo-boy, Trump has really done it now: he’s called for assassinating Hillary Clinton, or her Supreme Court nominees, and probably pulling the ears off the Easter Bunny, too. Here’s the wire service copy anyway:

Donald Trump seemingly joked about shooting Hillary Clinton during a speech Tuesday in North Carolina.

“If she gets to pick her judges —nothing you can do folks,” Trump said, referring to Clinton getting to nominate Supreme Court justices if she were elected president. “Although, the Second Amendment, people, maybe there is.”

And you didn’t even need a three-count before the collective freakout began, including among many of my friends critical of Trump, like John Podhoretz:

Pod's Tweet copy

Now I am as frustrated at the next person with Trump’s rhetorical imprecision on so many things, but I think his remark can bear a much different and more sound construction. The purpose of the Second Amendment is not to protect the right of deer hunters to have hunting rifles: it’s to enable the people the means of asserting their sovereignty in an extreme case. It bears a direct connection to the right of revolution in the Declaration of Independence (“whenever any government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right, it is the duty, of the people to alter or abolish it”).

Liberals utterly reject this idea, and to be sure it is not practical in the modern world, or perhaps we might say that it is paradoxical: if things get so bad that actual armed rebellion against our own government is the only remedy left, it will probably be too late. And regular remedies at the ballot box will probably suffice to overturn any gun confiscation decision of a left-wing Supreme Court, if gun-grabbing justices aren’t impeached first. (One workaround: have pro-gun states pass statutes declaring that every citizen of the state is now a member of the state militia, and issue a single page of simple regulations [“Be sure to shoot straight”] to satisfy the liberal reading of guns only being allowed to a “well-regulated” militia.)

The point is, the principle of the Second Amendment lurking in the background of Trump’s provocation is entirely sound. I wish he and his campaign had the moxie to articulate this properly, instead of this mush:

In a statement, Trump’s campaign blamed the “dishonest media” for overblowing his remarks. “It’s called the power of unification,” Jason Miller, senior communications adviser for Trump’s campaign, wrote in an emailed statement. “Second Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power. And this year, they will be voting in record numbers, and it won’t be for Hillary Clinton, it will be for Donald Trump.”

C’mon, Trumpers; you can do better than this.

JOHN adds: As is so often the case with Trump, it is hard to tell what he was trying to say. Here is the video, the first clip is the Second Amendment riff. I really don’t think he was suggesting that Hillary should be assassinated, but when Trump goes off-script and starts free associating, he is inept. It is one fiasco after another, with the consequence that Hillary is able to skate with regard to all of the legitimate issues that Trump raises in his more coherent moments.