Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Obama Takes Aim at the NRA and Republicans

Let me just say upfront that I agree with Eleanor Clift: the assault weapons ban IS doomed. Yes, it's a valiant and noble fight worth waging, but in the end the votes just aren't there to support it. But that was hardly the point of President Obama's press conference today.

If you were paying close attention what you witnessed was a president who not only boldly and courageously threw down the gauntlet by calling for gun control, he masterfully cut the feet out from under both the NRA and Congressional Republicans by splitting up the various legislative initiatives into four subsections. The result is that even if he loses on the assault weapons ban, he will get almost everything else.  But just as important, he will manage to corner the GOP in the process.

Think about it.  Putting aside assault weapons, who in their right mind wouldn't support background checks before purchasing a firearm? Or the elimination of armor-piercing bullets? Or providing mental health services in schools? Or allocating funds for additional police officers? Or a gun trafficking law? Br drawing a line in the sand, he is daring Republicans to cross it.

Glenn Thrush at Politico put it best:

Along with his tough stances on the debt ceiling, it's part of a second-term strategy of calculated confrontation: Republicans won't negotiate with him, so he plans to marshal popular opinion to force them into action. 

Basically it's a win / win scenario. If House Republicans cave, Obama gets an important legislative victory that might well prevent the next massacre; if they balk, they risk the public outcry that will undoubtedly ensue.

Already, notable and respected conservatives are calling out the GOP for its failure to compromise on sensible solutions to the outbreak of gun violence in the country and condemning the NRA for its disgusting attack ad, targeting the President's daughters.  This is what David Frum had to say about the latter:

First: on the merits, the NRA's idea to place armed guards in every American school is a foolish one. Mass casualty shootings do not happen only in schools, as the phrase "going postal" should remind us. Moreover, as Steven Strauss has argued, even in schools, armed guards will prove a weak defense in a country where rapid-fire large-capacity weapons are so easily available.

Second: even if the idea were a good idea, the NRA's sneering references to the president's family are beyond the pale. As the makers of the NRA ad should know, and probably do know, the First Family has come under years of racially coded attack for their "uppityism," as Rush Limbaugh phrased it. This latest attack ad looks to many like only one more attempt to inflame an ancient American wound.

By politically isolating Republicans, who seem to be tripping over themselves these days in an attempt to make him look good, Obama is setting the stage for what many hope will be the building of a grand legacy.

In a word, it was sheer brilliance.


Links: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/01/16/the-assault-weapons-ban-is-doomed.html
http://www.politico.com/story/2013/01/obamas-guns-gambit-86303.html?hp=t2_3
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/01/16/the-nra-guns-for-sasha-and-malia.html

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