Monday, February 04, 2013

Obama/Democratic strategy: things are going our way bigtime, we need to surrender quick!

It's been several weeks since we've had a Sandy Hook-size mass killing in the US. So, the Democrats are apparently ... rushing to weasel out of an assault weapons ban.

Here is President Obama speaking today, Obama Calls for Universal Background Checks for All Gun Purchases PBS Newshour 02/04/2013 (I get a strange green blinking on the video, but you can still see and hear it):

Transcript is here.

Obama's Now Is The Time: The President’s plan to protect our children and our communities by reducing gun violence 01/16/2013 calls for a ban on private possession and sale of assault weapons.

The President said explicitly what his main message is. Compromise! "We don't have to agree on everything to agree it's time to do something. That's my main message here today." And we've got that sweetbipartisan vibe going, "Senators from both parties have also come together and proposed a bill that would crack down on people who buy guns only to turn them around and sell them to criminals. It’s a bill that would keep more guns off the street and out of the hands of people with the intent of doing harm."

And, oh yeah, he's still kinda-sorta pretending he would like to do something about assault weapons: "We should restore the ban on military-style assault weapons and a 10-round limit for magazines. And that deserves a vote in Congress."

Sam Stein in Assault Weapons Ban Likely To Die So That Broader Gun Policy Legislation Can Live Huffington Post 02/04/2013 spells out emerging Democratic strategies to strip the assualt weapons ban out of what is currently Sen. Diane Feinstein's Assault Weapons Ban of 2013:

"We are not dictating to Judiciary what is in the bill," said a Senate leadership aide.

But Reid has made promises. Among them is that the assault weapons ban will get a vote, something that President Barack Obama also called for during a speech on gun violence in Minneapolis on Monday. The question is: In what form or capacity will that vote take place?

If the bill emerges from the Judiciary Committee without an assault weapons ban in it, then Reid will allow for the ban to be introduced as an amendment on the Senate floor. If the bill emerges from the Judiciary Committee with an assault weapons ban in it, the expectation is that Reid will allow for a vote to strip it out. Leadership prefers the former, as it would give more conservative Democrats the chance to publicly say they beat back the ban. If the latter were to take place, it would put Reid in an uncomfortable position of allowing for the procedural axing of a measure that remains popular in the party.
This is what's so frustrating about the Democrats. They are more used to fobbing their base off than actually fighting for what the base wants. Even when what the base wants is generally popular, which it very often is.

And because the Democrats didn't abolish the undemocratic Senate filibuster, we're left with a situation "where 60 votes would be needed to shut off debate," as Stein writes. Apparently that's still the operative assumption in the Senate, so that in turn becomes another excuse for compromising early and often.

But, gee, some Republicans are making noises about supporting some gun regulations! Stein reports, "The Obama administration and allied Democrats, however, have been heartened by the fact that bipartisan coalitions already exist in congress for background check legislation and a trafficking bill." So, what don't the Dems rush to concede more stuff? What could possibly go wrong?

And who better to speak for this viewpoint than Third Way?

"When the assault weapons ban comes to the floor, proponents including us will have to contend with the fact that very few assault weapons are actually used in a crime," Jim Kessler, a former director of policy and research at Americans for Gun Safety and co-founder of the centrist-Democratic organization Third Way. "That’s the challenge with passing this law. On the one hand, it seems that in a civil society we should draw a line on what kind of weapon a person can own. And weapons designed for warfare belong on the other side of that line. On the other hand, if you are going to die at the hands of a criminal with a gun, it's going to be a handgun."
Yeah, who cares about the occasional mass murder of churchgoers or schoolchildren? It's sad and all, but the important thing is to be bipartisan.

At least that's how the corporate Democrats seem to look at it. After all, some execs in the gun industry are presumably getting big bonuses for selling high-margin assault rifles, and Third Way would never want to interfere with honest profit-making, of course!

Obama's Now Is The Time: The President’s plan to protect our children and our communities by reducing gun violence 01/16/2013 calls for a ban on private possession and sale of assault weapons. I guess this is the new, tougher, progressive Obama? Wait two whole weeks before capitulating and relying on bipartisan good will from Republicans?

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