Fineman on Gun Control: The U.S. Senate “Where Changes Goes To Die”
It wasn’t really a surprise that the Senate beat down background checks in gun control because it fell short of the 60 votes needed for passage. The surprise was how blatant and in the end disdainful politicos brushed aside a clear popular will. The Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman has a must-read-in-full in which he calls the Senate a place where change goes to die. Some excerpts:
That wasn’t enough. By a vote of 54-46 — short of the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster — the U.S. Senate proved once again that Washington is the place where change goes to die.
This wasn’t merely the Senate being what the Founding Fathers envisioned: the “cooling saucer” for the hot coffee of legislative emotion. This was the Senate, constricted by its own rules and the laser-focused fire of the National Rifle Association, being the slaughterhouse of public will.
The problem: if there are no consequences at the ballot box the situation won’t change.
Don’t hold your breath for that to happen soon.
It was clear both to reason and arithmetic that most voters wanted to close the so-called gun show loophole. Indeed, the NRA leader who now opposes doing so, Wayne LaPierre, once publicly supported just that proposal.
But it was not to be in the Congress of today. The vote last week to allow debate on the measure was a false dawn, and almost everyone on Capitol Hill in both parties knew it.
The NRA had given members a “pass” on that vote, saying that it would not count the vote as a betrayal come Election Day. But the group said the opposite about Wednesday’s vote: This one counted — and the near score of Republicans who voted to allow debate shrank to four for passage of the measure.
Democrats could see the arithmetic, and the four who voted with the NRA — all from rural red states — saw no reason to risk their own necks.
And Obama? Fineman again nails it:
In the Rose Garden after the vote, President Barack Obama stood with those Newtown family members. He wore a scowl and spoke with the passion of righteous indignation and the sure knowledge that most of America agreed with him.
He was unusually harsh on his fellow politicians. Those who had voted no had “caved to the pressure,” Obama said, and had “failed” the test of courageous leadership in a crisis.
He followed the name calling with a pledge, in essence, to make gun reform a central issue in the 2014 midterm elections.
A president who had come to Washington promising change, and who had fitfully effected some, was now promising to try again. He had stopped legislating and had started campaigning.
Once again, Obama was promising change you could believe in — and in this case he has the public, if not the current Congress, on his side.
The party that has been the most lock-step stumbling block is the GOP, which gets the overwhelming amount of donations from the NRA. Turns out it was money well spent.
Or will the outlook about that be a little different on election day 2014?
Don’t hold your breath…