April 18, 2013 13 Comments
Yesterday the Senate defeated Obama’s gun control effort. The Toomey-Manchin bill failed 54-46, the GOP bill failed 48-52 and Feinstein’s assault weapons ban failed 40-60. (60 votes were required to end debate) The Democrats couldn’t even keep their caucus in order as five voted against various Obama supported provisions. The left is enraged, insisting that 90% of the country supports increased background checks even though Gallup reports that only 4% even care about gun control as a top issue. All of the attempts at emotional manipulation, trotting out grieving families and such, none of it worked. Turning the NRA into an arch enemy didn’t work. What’s more, the public either supports the Senate’s action yesterday or they’re largely indifferent.
Obama is none to pleased. He had another one of his hissy fit press conferences wherein he attempted to demonize everyone who disagrees with him. According to Obama, gun control was defeated because the other side is a bunch of “willful liars.” This would have to be the case, after all doesn’t everyone believe the “enemy” willfully lies? It really doesn’t matter who the enemy happens to be, he’s always a liar. As such, it was hardly surprising when Obama accused his opponents of being willful liars. What’s interesting is that he has to accuse members of his own caucus of being liars or at least dumb enough to be taken by liars.
In the alternative, this result was highly predictable. Obama’s gun control efforts were always doomed to failure. He tried to take advantage of a crisis (Newtown) without the country really believing we were in crisis mode. He proposed a bill that had no chance of passing either chamber in Congress because it was too extreme and went too far, especially for red state Democrats. He didn’t have public support behind him, largely because the country is weary of gun control as a big ticket bill even if they support some individual measures. Then in defeat, as usual, Obama attacked his opponents, took his marbles home and vowed this was only round one.
Like Bush in 2005, Obama picked the wrong issue to kick off his second term. Gun control has never been popular on a national level, it was a mistake to shift focus to it in an overreaction to the Newtown tragedy. Obama may have made a bigger error though. The public seems very weary of large comprehensive bills. There’s been a reaction against large bills such as the Stimulus and Obamacare. The public seems to not trust these large, 2,000 page bills with dozens of provisions and multiple purposes. Obama may have been able to rally support for one portion of his gun control bill. He should have offered that as a stand alone bill. He could have won. Instead he went for the home run and got nothing.
Going forward Congress is going to be debating immigration reform in the next few weeks. The so-called Gang of Eight proposal is hundreds of pages long, so is Obama’s proposal. They contain multiple purposes, and dozens of hidden provisions. If Obama and the Democrats are smart, they’ll offer each of their main proposals as stand alone bills. The public is much more likely to go along with a handful of small bills than one large bill that everyone can turn into something awful and worth opposing. You get the feeling though that this is a lesson Obama doesn’t want to learn. He wants to lose so he can rally Democrats for the 2014 campaign. His press conference temper tantrum was the kickoff for the 2014 campaign. He’ll only get worse before the election.