We hate to ruin your weekend with news of fecklessness (and probably too many naps) at the White House, but America’s newspaper of record is deeply concerned about what’s happening there. Or, more accurately, what’s not happening.
From The New York Times . . .
“Six years ago, it was guns. Five years ago, it was guns. Four years ago, it was guns. Last night it was guns. This morning it was guns,” Mr. Biden told reporters in August 1994, during end-stage negotiations over the legislation. “And right now, it’s guns. It’s guns, guns, guns, guns.”
Much of Mr. Biden’s legislative career could be summarized in the same way. For decades, he played a crucial role in major legislative battles over gun control, championing proposals to tighten regulations on guns and their owners. On the campaign trail last year, Mr. Biden proposed the most expansive gun control platform of any presidential candidate in history, promising to reinstate the assault weapons ban, institute a voluntary gun buyback program and send a bill to Congress on his first day in office repealing liability protections for gun manufacturers and closing background-check loopholes.
Yet 73 days into his presidency, with five mass shootings and more than 10,000 gun violence deaths having already occurred this year, Mr. Biden is approaching the issue with far less urgency. Of the more than 50 executive orders and memorandums he has given so far, none have addressed gun control. That bill he promised to send to Congress never arrived. And his use of the bully pulpit to push for new measures has been uneven to nonexistent.
Oh noes! The Times frets that Grampy Joe is missing his golden opportunity. He hasn’t even commanded the ATF to regulate anything under the NFA yet!
Less than 24 hours after a shooting rampage last month in Boulder, Colo., that killed 10 people, Mr. Biden promised action, saying he didn’t need to “wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common sense steps” on gun control. When pressed on those measures by reporters two days later, he seemed more comfortable waiting: He quickly dismissed the specifics of his proposals as “a matter of timing,” before making clear that his focus would be the infrastructure bill.
It’s almost as if Joe doesn’t really remember what he’s said from one day to the next.
But wait. Maybe it’s not just a case of advanced mental decline that’s to blame for gun control being pushed to the administration’s back burner. Maybe there’s more going on here.
A day after the Boulder shooting, Vice President Kamala Harris pressured the Senate to take action, deflecting more than six minutes of questions about what executive actions the president was prepared to take.
“This is going to be about your viewers and all of us pleading to the reason, pleading to the hearts and minds of the people in the U.S. Senate,” she said. “Let’s say, ‘We’re going to hold our elected people accountable if they’re not going to be with us.’”
A few days later, when asked about the issue during a visit to a school in Connecticut, she quickly pivoted from guns to promoting the administration’s relief package.
Gun control advocates are noticing. They’re even frustrated enough to comment in The Times op-ed — oh so gently — on their growing concern that the BidenHarris administration won’t get anything done to further limit Americans’ gun rights before Congress starts looking forward to the 2022 midterm campaigns and is far less inclined to rile up the rubes back home with talk of taking away their guns.
D’oh! Then there’s the frustrating, persistent reality of the Senate filibuster that stands in the way of Democrats achieving their most dearly-held gun-controlling dreams…steamrolling an “assault weapons” ban, a “high capacity” magazine ban, universal background checks, a national gun purchase waiting period, and a repeal of the PLCAA into law.
Passage of any kind of gun legislation would most likely involve Democrats agreeing to eliminate the filibuster, a procedural tactic that would allow the party to pass bills with their tight majority. And even then, some Democrats are skeptical that gun legislation would pass, given the divides within their own caucus. When asked whether he saw momentum for gun control this Congress, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont responded simply: “I wish I could tell you that was the case.”
Finally, as if to twist the knife a little, The Times’ Lisa Lerer ends her piece by quoting Biden’s own words back at him . . .
“Were it not for President Clinton, there is no possibility, zero possibility, that this significant piece of legislation would be law,” he said. “No president that I have served within the 22 years I’ve been here was willing to go out on the line, flat out, and say, ‘We’re not going to have a bill unless there is the gun ban in the bill for assault weapons.’”
See Joe…if you can pull up your big boy pants and be as brave (or naive) as Bill Clinton was back in the day, someone might say the same nice things about you!
If that was intended to embarrass Old Joe into action, good luck. That presupposes he’s actually lucid enough to understand what Lerer’s op-ed is intended to do. Then again, maybe The Times is betting that Joe’s also too far gone to remember what happened to Democrats in the midterms after Clinton signed the 1994 “assault weapons” ban bill into law.