CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Oh, Joe Manchin, you are in trouble. My mother is upset with you. She is going to write you a letter, and let me tell you, you do not want a letter from my mother expressing her displeasure.
My mother has a letter signed by Richard Nixon hanging on her wall. You are the first Democrat she remembers voting for. Ever. She voted for you because she trusted you, but you have let her down on the gun control issue.
You are probably thinking, "Oh well, what do I care about one little old lady? I've handled tougher." You would be wrong to think that.
On Dec. 17, when you said to the American public: "Everything should be on the table including military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazines," you were speaking for myself, my mother, and many West Virginia gun owners who believe that being a "responsible gun owner" does not mean that every gun ought to be available to every person. However, I get the feeling that after you made those statements the NRA called and said, "Now Joey, that was really neat when you used your own words. Wow, you used some big words, too. But what you said makes it sound like you disagree with your kindly ol', super-rich Uncle NRA. Run along home now and write a thousand times 'I will not go against the NRA.'"
You think dealing with the NRA is tough? When my mother contacts you she will not start with "Joey." You will hear "Joseph Manchin the Third! March your flip-flopping rear in here right now!" It will not get better from there. She is angry about your March 8 column in which you completely walk back your Dec. 17 statements. On March 8, you promise:
* "My bill will not take away anyone's guns.
* "My bill will not ban any kind of firearm.
* "My bill will not ban or restrict the use of any kind of bullet or any size clip or magazine.
* "My bill will not create a national registry; in fact, it clearly makes illegal the establishment of any such registry.
* "My bill will not, in any fashion, infringe upon the rights of law-abiding citizens."
My mother wants to know why you utterly reversed your position. You'd better have a good answer. I feel for you. Big Sal is going to make the NRA look like napping kitties. But you brought this on yourself.
That's the pity of it. You could have had the courage to stand by your initial statements. It looks as if you are bowing to the NRA.