Both statements are so long that it's hard to match up all the elements and find what is supposed to be a contradiction. (I always wonder why we find Obama so exciting when his rhetorical method is often to bore us to the point of inattention.)
Yesterday’s assertion by Barack Obama that he never said the DC gun ban overturned by the Supreme Court was constitutional or that he supported it became the latest in his flip-flops to be exposed by a simple review of the videotape record.Let's look at the text. Obama's June 26th statement is:
I believe in the Second Amendment as being an individual right and have said that consistently. I also think that individual right is constrained by the rights of the community to maintain issues [sic] of public safety. I don't think those two principles are contradictory and in fact what I have been saying consistently is what the Supreme Court essentially said today. The D.C. law may have been struck down, but they also affirmed the right for local communities to engage in background checks and other common sense laws that most lawful gun owners would agree with. And so I think that we can move beyond some of the conflicts on this issue, make sure that law-abiding gun owners have their rights respected, and at the same time, make sure that we don't see the kinds of murder and devastation that we've seen on the streets of so many of our cities.What did Morrissey miss? In the new video Obama never says that that he thought the Supreme Court was right when it said that the D.C. law was unconstitutional. He said he believed the individual rights theory of the Second Amendment. He says that there can be an individual right and, at the same time, "common sense" safety laws. He says this is "essentially" the position the Supreme Court took. So there is a core meaning of the Supreme Court case that he agrees with. Period. Next, he states that "The D.C. law may have been struck down," but he does not say that he agrees with that part of the decision. He does not say that that the majority got the balance right when it decided how forceful the individual right was when balanced against the safety interests of the community.
In the older video, Obama is asked about the D.C. ban, and he states the same idea that reasonable regulations can coexist with respect for gun rights. He's asked about the D.C. law, but he never states that it's constitutional, and in any case, he never mentions the part of the law that the Supreme Court ultimately found unconstitutional. He talked about background checks and illegal guns on the street, not guns kept in the home for self-protection.
In neither video clip does he say whether he thinks there is a Second Amendment right to have a unlocked handgun in the home for self-defense.
There is no contradiction!
YouTube — this thing Morrissey thinks Obama doesn't get — can be used to put up videos along with jabbing, mocking, false assertions about what they say. I think it's Morrissey who doesn't get YouTube because he doesn't realize that bloggers will actually watch those video clips and examine the fit between transcript and your assertions and tell you when you are flat wrong.
ADDED: Let me add that I think it is most likely that Obama does agree with the dissenting opinions in the Supreme Court. Also, I do recognize that in the older video, Obama seems to go along the questioner's statement that the D.C. law is constitutional. But the questioner doesn't specify the part of the law that the Court struck down — that is, the possession of an unlocked handgun in the home — and that Obama goes on to speak positively about the use of guns for protecting your family.
Where Morrissey is most plainly wrong is in saying that the new video shows him saying that the D.C. law was unconstitutional. He does not.
Now, he is being cagey. The interviewer should have had the wits to ask a follow-up: Do you think the Court was right to say there is a Second Amendment right to keep an unlocked handgun in the home? I think he would probably have given a cagey answer even to that, but the fact is that the video shows no attempt to pin him down.
Another follow-up question is: If you are elected President and have the opportunity to appoint a Supreme Court Justice, will you nominate someone who interprets the Constitution like Justices Stevens, Souter, Ginsberg, and Breyer, who found no right to keep an unlocked handgun in the home, or someone like Scalia, Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito, who found such a right? Could someone ask him that?
UPDATE: Allahpundit has this clip showing Obama saying:
Well, you know, what I've consistently said is that I believe that the 2nd Amendment means something, that it is an individual right, and that's what the Supreme Court held. So I agree with that aspect of the opinion. What I've also said is that every individual right can be bound by the interests of the community at large. And the Supreme Court agreed with that as well.(I'm using the transcript from RCP.) So Obama finally does throw his lot in with the majority — using very mild language. It's not a terrible violation of rights, but just an accidental misjudgment of the line between what government can and can't do — that is, it "looks" as thought the government went too far. If someone asks him, why did he seem to say it was constitutional last winter, I think I know what he'll say. (A lawprof knows lawprofitude.) He'll say that from his perspective at the time it looked as though the government had hit the runway, but it's a difficult line, and with the detailed elaboration provided by the Supreme Court, he understands the perspective that sees the runway as having been overshot. But the important thing is to get beyond this divisive, polarized thinking and recognize that we all agree that public safety and gun rights are both important and that reasonable people can come together and find the right balance, so that we can preserve our valued traditions and overcome the terrible violence that has plagued the streets of our cities.
It looks to me that the D.C. handgun ban overshot the runway, that it went beyond constitutional limits. But it doesn't mean that local communities can't, you know, pass background checks, that they can't make sure that they're tracing guns that have been used in crimes to find out where they got them from. So there's still room for us to, I think, have some common-sense gun laws that are also compatible with the 2nd Amendment. And the key is to try to stop using this as a wedge issue and let's figure out an intelligent way where we can stop having kids being murdered on the streets of American cities while making sure that law-abiding gun owners are protected in their rights.
(Lesser informed voters probably don’t realize he’s flip-flopped at all, a fact he’s surely counting on.) Wouldn’t be the first time a politician’s maneuvered during the general election to claim the center, but of course the Messiah is no ordinary politician according to his apostles. Is any of this doing damage to his aura as the avatar of liberal Hopenchange?See I think flipflop and Messiah are the wrong words (though I understand why you want those words to stick). Flipflopping is a noisy, jerky motion from one side to the other. But Obama is all about smoothing out all the rough spots, showing how seemingly disparate positions can be reconciled. The reason he can do it is not that he has divine powers or anything like them. He's a law professor. He's doing the law professor thing so plainly that it makes me want to get out my laptop and surf the internet or IM my friends about how bored I am.