New Orleans It turns out that there’s a reason that Wayne LaPierre, the embattled chief of the National Rifle Association, doesn’t give many interviews to the press. It because he comes off as an oblivious, self-centered, dissembling whiny baby.
A reporter for the New York Times Magazine, Danny Hakim, sat down with LaPierre for a series of long discussions and bent over backwards to let him try and wiggle out of the mess and scandals that have embroiled the NRA over the last several years. Undoubtedly, he agreed hoping to turn the public relations disaster and membership crashes of the NRA under his leadership around. It didn’t work. He couldn’t make a case for the NRA, because he couldn’t put down the crying towel for himself long enough to even pretend there was a defense for their impossible positions. Nor could he ever offer any semblance of excuse for his own self-dealing and money-grubbing behavior or curiously inexplicable decisions that are now bleeding out the organization in what some of his opponents term an “existential crisis,” but in many ways looks and reads like a falling out among thieves.
Why do I say this? Here are some examples:
- Speaking of the external investigations and internal conflict, his response was not the typical, “we’ll emerge stronger,” but an all-about-me, “It was horribly painful…I mean it’s the most painful period of my life.”
- In a subtle plea for sympathy at 70, he “acknowledged a sense of mortality. His father, he said, found out he had Alzheimer’s at 75.” He claims he’ll spend his last days fighting for the organization. Yeah, right. It’s still all personal as he then says, “If I lose every friend, I’m prepared to do it.” Where do we find the memo that says running a big nonprofit is about whether you have friends?
- When asked about his comment in a fundraising letter about “jackbooted government thugs” coming after the organization, he tries to deflect responsibility for his comments saying it was something written “downstairs.”
- The $2 million a year contract with the public relations firm, Ackerman, to pay former Contra scandal colonel Oliver North as president of the NRA and then be reimbursed by the NRA, he tries to claim he didn’t approve or negotiate but just knew the details.
- He blames his $250,000 shopping trips on his PR firm claiming it was about maintaining the brand, and this from a guy who the interview says will hardly look you in the eye when he speaks to you.
- The controversial Russian trip some board members and donors took that was paid for by a foreign agent, he claims to have opposed with some offhanded comments, but didn’t stop.
- At the end he compares the conflict and investigations to being “waterboarded.”
The fellow that comes off in this interview is pathetic, irresponsible, and incompetent. He somehow thinks a 501c3 tax-exempt nonprofit like the NRA has a “safe harbor” to rectify all of their conflating of monies back and forth, he defends the excessive legal fees, and everything is someone else’s fault in their conflicted bureaucracy.
This guy should be a case study in the failure of nonprofit leadership and how money in politics can build up a strawman as a strongman. If the IRS, the state of New York and Washington, D.C. don’t take away their tax exemption and force him out of his position and reform this organization, any of the NRA members that read about LaPierre’s piety party, should get rid of him.