The Fast and Furious Dog Whistle

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.”

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.