More on Obama being a Lame Duck:
Barack Obama can't pass gun control despite 90 per cent support. Truly, he is a lame-duck president
Yesterday, the most modest of gun control proposals died in the Senate. It would have expanded background checks to people purchasing weapons at gun shows and online sales, enjoyed 90 per cent support among the public and came on the back of the tragedy at Newtown. Yet, despite all that it had going for it, the Toomey-Manchin bill raised just 54 votes – six short of the number necessary for passage. “This is a pretty shameful day for Washington,” said Obama afterwards. It wasn’t exactly a red letter day for him, either.
Why did the no-brainer bill fail? Four reasons:
1. It wasn’t the political priority that its supporters presumed it was.
Yes, Newtown shocked the nation – but the top priority for the public remains the economy. According to Gallup, only 4 per cent of Americans think that gun control is the “most important problem facing the country today”.
2. The National Rifle Association is smarter than we all thought.
In the wake of Newtown it scored a number of own goals, including a disastrous press conference and floating the idea of armed guards in schools. But Blake Zeff argues that its extremism was calculated, that its goal was to shift the gravity of debate away from the centre ground and towards the Right – compelling Democrats to talk seriously about armed guards and stop talking about banning whole classes of weapons. The NRA, even by farce, transformed the discussion to its advantage.
3. The Democrats are dumber that we all thought.
Blake Zeff, again, makes a compelling case that the Dems screwed up when they declined to rally behind a more comprehensive gun control bill – conceding leadership of the debate to the Right within their party. This is a familiar story: liberals tend to be less ambitious and tenacious than their conservative rivals.
4. Barack Obama is a lame-duck president.
Nobody listens to what he says anymore, nobody is interested in winning his approval and nobody much cares if he thinks they have “let the country down”. This is typical for a second-term president who has lost all their leverage because they’re no longer running for office and everybody is patiently waiting for the day when he quits the White House. But Obama's difficult personality has doubled the size of the challenge. Gloating in victory, adolescent in defeat – the Prez doesn’t make it easy to work with him. Why should conservative senators give him a legislative victory after he has spent four years painting them as knuckle-dragging rednecks who hate women and the poor?
Whatever your position on gun control, yesterday’s events are a damning indictment of Obama’s presidency – a flash of style, lots of soaring rhetoric and, when the votes are actually counted, little show for any of it. America has four more years of this lame-duck president telling them that it has let him down. If only he could tear up the Constitution and rule by diktat he might save himself a little disappointment. Alas, American democracy is a stickler for rules.