Watching Chris W. Cox, the executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, work the showroom floor at the group’s 143rd Annual Meetings and Exhibits in downtown Indianapolis was a site to behold.
It’s safe to say that no one at the NRA is smoother, more well-liked, more respected than Cox. To be frank, the dude is a rock star (not a self-glossed rock star in the Bloomberg sense of the phrase).
I’d imagine that for a lot of members, he’s total man-crush material.
What draws people to Cox? Well it could be his baby-face countenance, his west-Tennessee country drawl, his wide and richly engaging deep-blue eyes, his smile that never quite seems to leave his face, even when he’s talking about solemn matters, his intellect which is as every bit as impressive as his looks and charm, or his overall Clinton-level charisma.
I was grabbing a beer with one blogger after the convention who told me that there are two men in the pro-gun movement that she’d do anything for — putting a lot of emphasis on the word “anything” — one was a high-profile Second Amendment attorney, the other was Chris Cox.
A grassroots organizer told me something similar, saying that when Chris Cox calls you and tells you to do something, you do it — not only because you know it’s the right thing, but because you want to do it.
The organizer was not suggesting that the NRA’s chief lobbyist was untoward in any way shape or form, but rather she was underscoring the idea that he is highly inspirational. I should also be clear that I’m not insinuating that Cox is a lecher, a lady killer or a libertine — just the opposite in fact, that he’s a principled man (unlike Clinton) who also happens to be handsome with many admirers both inside and outside the organization (like Clinton).
Anyone familiar with the NRA or Cox will not find this surprising. “Duh. He’s a smart, good-looking dude with mass appeal. People like him. We get it.” But what caught me off guard is that in addition to being all those things, he also has a sense of humor and that he could take a joke.
Why did this surprise me? Well, when it comes to dealing with the media, the NRA leadership often comes across as cloistered, insular and always very serious.
I suppose one can’t blame them given that the media is prone to taking jokes out-of-context in an attempt to smear one’s reputation and de-legitimize one’s arguments. In this sense, the NRA can’t be too careful these days.
Yet, in the face of this pressure and potential threat, Cox acknowledged that he thought my April Fool’s Day article, that joking claimed he was a 12-year-old runaway from Deerborn, Michigan, named Christopher Coxwolinski, was humorous.
I was glad to hear that. Really, because I was worried that they might take it the wrong way as if I was trying to attack Chris and the organization. I wasn’t. I was just trying to make them smile. And I’m glad I did.
Besides, a sense of humor is important when it comes to our leaders, as the antislavery activist Rev. Henry Ward Beecher observed, “A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It’s jolted by every pebble on the road.”
One day, Cox will run the NRA. He’ll be the face of the franchise. He’ll be the one appearing regularly on all the Sunday talk shows. Nothing against current executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, but that’s excellent news for an organization that is constantly trying to get younger, more diverse and more popular.