Palin, Santorum and Perry Remind the NRA Convention of America's Greatness and that Greatness Comes from a Gun
There was a point in Rick Santorum's history lesson, a point in the former Pennsylvania senator's spiel last Friday about the horrific transition President Obama has yet in store for America, when the 20,000-strong audience at the 2013 NRA Convention sat perfectly silent. Bathed in blue flood-light, all the star-and-stripe hats and silk-screen shirts remained rapt. They listened to Santorum rage on the secularism of the Obama Administration, of the parallels between the "godless" French Revolutionaries, the ones who "burned churches and killed clergy," and all that's coming from the White House.
Ted Cruz kept the NRA Convention's audience enraptured through his legal explanations of the Second Amendment.
"Obama's vision for the US is the same vision running wild in Europe for the past two centuries!" Santorum thundered, a bit grayer than last year, just as much faith in his oratory as before. "It's is a secular culture -- it's a dying culture!" That's why the French opted for fraternité -- brotherhood -- rather than paternité -- homage to the Father, to the Creator above. That's why it failed. That's why Napoleon, rather than Jésus-Christ, ground the French under his heel.
And just before Santorum's coup de grâce, just before Santorum -- whose speech was easily the best of the afternoon's lineup -- jumped the audience into its thirtieth standing ovation of the day, a quick scan of the crowd revealed a group of thousands soaking in the juxtaposition, soaking in the history, as much as possible. This was a group of people for whom citing America's greatness carried no sense of irony. This was the group for whom discussing America's position as the last and best bastion of freedom -- so long as we're not discussing gay marriage, or drug usage, or reproductive choice, or gambling in Texas -- was a given. This was a group that saw no daylight between the Second Amendment and an undying faith in democracy -- this was a people, to paraphrase Obama, who cling to guns as religion.
Hands were clasped. Backs were erect. Eyes were wide, and a handful were moist. And as Santorum, silhouetted against a 30-foot by 150-foot American flag behind, reached for his kicker -- "We won the American Revolution because we wanted it more!" -- a lone flag thrust up in the middle of the crowd, circling back and forth: "Don't tread on me," it read. The lights above changed to red, and suddenly the crowd was on its feet, charging Santorum on, cheering him forward. "Something big is happening in America!" Santorum prodded. "They're trying to transform America! From what it is! ... They're trying to erode who we are!" Applause, screams, approval. And a flag continuing to fly faster than before.
Santorum's speech was far better than his interpretation of the French Revolution.
So it went through the afternoon. The handful of speakers ran around the themes of persecution and cultural change and a usurper in the White House. There was the horrific John Bolton, a former ambassador, somehow, to the United Nations, discussing Obama's bent for ceding sovereignty to a body of unelected internationals, mustache trembling in his righteousness and inanity. There was Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, trying his damndest to perfect his Southern accent, the only one comfortable enough to use the word "race" through the entire afternoon. There was Jeanine Pirro, a barbed Fox News prosecutor, spinning numbers about the criminals run wild and the lawful, gun-totin' Americans suffering under the yoke of any gun regulation that would seek to prevent sales of assault weaponry. (To any non-Fox viewer in the audience, Pirro instantly lost credibility the second she said Tamerlan Tsarnaev was from Chechnya. Facts are funny things, lady.)
Rick Perry, of course, couldn't afford to be outshone; a minutes-long video intro showed him kneeling in collared shirt and safety goggles, setting his semi-automatic at a dozen targets 50 yards away. After hitting every single one -- of course he hit every single one -- Perry stood, looking backward, lock-jaw, staring over the troops he'd just inspired. The camera remaining knee-height. Here was the Spartacus we'd always wanted. Here was Marc Antony. Here was the warrior-diplomat we've long gone without. "[This administration] has done nothing but make it harder for law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment right!" Perry said to his audience of faithful. "In Texas, we believe in freedom. [And] if you're not already here, consider coming to the place that still loves freedom!"