JOSH MARSHALL TAKES THE BAIT: President Bush gave a speech yesterday in which he equated membership in state militias with membership in the National Guard. That’s silly, and Josh Marshall points out the silliness of equating the two. (And here’s another example — I’ve got a commission as a Colonel in the Tennessee Militia, which may or may not still be valid since it’s signed by Lamar Alexander, and which at any rate amounts to no more than a certificate on my wall — but still, I’m not a member of the National Guard.)

But wait a minute. We’ve heard for years from the left that the Second Amendment only protects a right to arms on the part of the state militias, and that those, nowadays, are the same as the National Guard. (The Brady Campaign, for example, talks about “Today’s equivalent of a ‘well-regulated’ militia – the National Guard.”)

Watch as people pile on Bush for this statement, uttering quotable bits about the obvious distinction between state militias and the National Guard, which can be brought up in debates and court cases on the right to arms later.

To paraphrase Wilfred Brimley in Absence of Malice: “Mr. Rove, are you that smart?”

UPDATE: I wonder what self-described Second Amendment enthusiast John Kerry has to say about this question?

Just remember: “Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Hey, it looks like Kerry agrees with Bush:

For more than three centuries, as you know better than anyone, our National Guard has stood on the frontlines of freedom. The Guard fought in that first great revolution, and has defended our country ever since, here in America and around the world.

The official “National Guard” dates to the Dick Act of 1903 — so Kerry must be counting the militias. For more on this stuff, read this.