Friday, April 19, 2013

Why the President Lost

President Obama waxed choleric over his recent defeat in the Senate of the Manchin/Toomey gun-control bill. He went so far as to essentially call opponents of the bill liars and blamed the Republicans for the loss while somehow failing to note the critical fact that four Democrats voted against it.

Anyway, the President suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune on this one for a number of reasons. Here are three:

1. The bill would have done nothing to prevent the Sandy Hook tragedy nor any of the other mass shootings which were cited as making the legislation necessary. Nor would it do anything to prevent the obscene gun violence in places like Chicago where three or four kids are shot to death every day. The bill was at best well-intentioned window dressing. At worst, it was an incremental addition to the burgeoning power of the federal government.

2. Even though the major feature of the bill, universal background checks, seems innocuous, and protections were built into the legislation to keep it from being turned into a registry of firearms owners, the fact is that tens of millions of people simply don't trust this president. The sense is that this was just the camel's nose insinuating itself into the tent and that just as the president, as soon as he won repeal of the Bush tax cuts, began campaigning for even more tax hikes, so, too, the concern was that once background checks were in place there'd be a campaign for even further restrictions on gun ownership.

Almost nobody believes this president when he assures us that he supports Second Amendment rights, just as nobody believed him when he said in 2008 that he opposed gay marriage. Most people are convinced, rightly or wrongly, that Mr. Obama's ultimate goal is to make it next to impossible to purchase a gun and to essentially drive American gun manufacturers out of business, just as the ultimate goal of his environmental regulations is to put the coal industry out of business and his apparent goal with Obamacare is to put private insurance companies out of business.

3. The Manchin/Toomey bill ignores what many people believe to be the real cause of much of the violence in our society: Our culture's increasing secularization, it's lust for violent entertainment, and the accelerating dissolution of the family. Put these three factors together and you get millions of young men growing up in a religious/moral vacuum with no strong male figure to inculcate virtue into their savage little hearts. These young men consequently spend their adolescent years wallowing in entertainment that makes killing and bloodshed exciting and cathartic, and there's no one in their lives to effectively teach them otherwise.

It's as though our society were in an advanced stage of a virulent cancer and the Manchin/Toomey bill sought to treat it by applying lip balm. Consequently, no one but Democrats really took it seriously.

The President's petulant reaction in the Rose Garden may have been sincere, but it's hard to believe that he really thought that the legislation, had it passed the Senate, would have also made it through the House of Representatives. He must have known that the Republican-run House would defeat it so why was he so upset that it lost in the Senate?

I don't wish to sound cynical, but I have little doubt that at least part of the reason he was angry was that it was defeated in the Senate due to Democrat defections. Had it passed in the Senate and then gone down in the House he would've had a club to use against House Republicans in the 2014 election. This is a crucial matter. Unless President Obama wins the House in 2014 he's going to be a very lame-duck president and he'll accomplish none of his remaining goals. Now, thanks to four of his fellow Democrats, the cudgel with which he had hoped to pummel the GOP won't be available to him.

I don't suppose those four Democratic senators should expect any White House dinner invitations for the next three years.