Paul Greenberg

It's a name to conjure with on Capitol Hill and throughout the country whenever the power of political lobbies is discussed: The National Rifle Association's support or opposition can determine elections in state after state, especially in the red ones, and may provide the decisive swing vote in bluer ones. It can make all the difference even in a presidential election if it's close enough.

No wonder candidates court the NRA's favor, voters go by its recommendations, and the presidential candidate who knows what's good for him will be sure to schedule a photo-op so he can be pictured stalking through the woods like some Natty Bumppo straight out of James Fenimore Cooper. Remember ol' John Kerry hunting grouse or whatever back in 2004, no matter how ungainly he looked and how transparent the pose? There's a reason the NRA is so powerful: It's as American as mom, apple pie, mass mailings and shootin' irons.

But not till now, Gentle Reader, has the full extent of the NRA's clever operation been revealed. Now it can told: In a brilliant move, its political operatives have planted an agent provocateur in the very heart of the opposition. The Hon. Bobby Lee Rush may fool others, but not this hawk-eyed sleuth. Ostensibly he's a true-blue, left-wing lib who represents the First Congressional District on the South Side of Chicago, a founding member of the Black Panther Party before he grew up, and the only American politician ever to best one Barack Obama mano a mano in a political campaign. But that's just his cover. In his secret life, he's obviously in cahoots with the very incarnation of the red-white-and-blue, Second Amendment-revering, concealed-carrying American right: yes, that very same National Rifle Association!

How do I know? Think about it: Why else would Congressman Rush have introduced HR 45, aka the Blair Holt Act, except to generate a bonanza of contributions to the NRA, not to mention a flood of outraged e-mails warning that the Second Amendment is in clear and present danger?

Folks who might not ordinarily genuflect before the gun-rights lobby can recognize when the reasonable regulation of firearms becomes sheer harassment of gun owners. As this clever bill of Mr. Rush's bill does -- flagrantly.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.