State of the Union

As John Richardson notes, there’s a very strong push to get President Obama to say something about gun control during the State of the Union. If I had to put money on it, I’m betting he doesn’t want to ride this tiger. The best they’ll get is a casual, quick mention, that doesn’t really commit to anything. Obama has two years before he has to go before voters, and he can’t afford to lose that many states, like Indiana, North Carolina, and Ohio, before he becomes a one termer. He also has to know it’ll make it next to impossible for rural Democrats like Tester to shill for him in 2012. Tester was particularly involved in helping Obama get cover from accusations that he was anti-gun. If Obama mentions gun control, it will destroy Senator Tester’s credibility on that issue. Tester is just an example too. There are many others.

But President Obama doesn’t strike me as having a keen political sense. He may say something yet. But either way it goes, I don’t think Obama is the key in this struggle. Obama is an unpopular polarizing President. If he gets behind new gun control laws it will, to be honest, probably help our side more than his. The real key to this whole issue is what Congresswoman Giffords is going to do once she comes back to political life. If Giffords gets behind new gun control efforts, this whole thing might develop a momentum that will be difficult to stop.

Regardless of what Obama does during the State of the Union, we’re not out of the woods yet by far.

9 thoughts on “State of the Union”

  1. I spotted a report that one of Gifford’s aides was going to sit next to Michelle Obama during the State of the Union speech

  2. Isn’t that person likely to be the guy who gave her immediate first aide and likely saved her life?

    Presidents, even this one, typically do not make policy statements with the person sitting next to the First Lady, it is almost always an emotional note.

    1. Yes, it is the intern who doctors credit with helping save her life. Given that kind of role in the shooting, I’m not sure he’s there for a policy statement, either. That’s something worth highlighting regardless of the situation.

  3. Sebastian, does it really matter what Giffords says? If she comes out and says we need more gun control, how does that make her any different than Carolyn McCarthy? I know that’s a harsh thing to say but even when we’re sympathetic to the victim so far logic and reason have won out. We had this same argument when VT happened and ultimately the political class recognized no gun control proposals on the table would’ve stopped it. Tuscon is no different.

    Even if Giffords says evil high capacity pistol mags and deadly Glock semi-autos need to be banned, there are still a whole bunch of Congressional members she’s going to have to convince to bring her view into the majority. At the end of the day I think it comes down to “I’m so sorry for what happened to you, Congresswoman Giffords but I have to represent my constituents and the American people on this. That is my first duty.”.

    I think our politicians still have enough spine for that even if it is driven by the fear of 40-80 million gun owners. I’ll take it.

  4. There’s a lot about her story that’s very different from McCarthy’s, and will make the case she can offer considerably more compelling. Sympathy for her is running very high, and she’s a highly sympathetic figure.

    She’s much more similar in those terms to Jim Brady than she is to Carolyn McCarthy.

  5. In my mind, what Obama says (or not) is a huge test of where the federal situation stands vis a vis gun control.

    If he does mention it in a favorable, supportive light, that would not indicate anything that departs from our prior understanding of the situation.

    However, if he does not mention it, or just says something vague, it is going to be very indicative that he sees it as an albatross. That, in itself, would be huge.

    I look forward to the speech on Tuesday.

  6. “He also has to know it’ll make it next to impossible for rural Democrats like Tester to shill for him in 2012…”

    Sotomayor’s anti-RKBA vote in McDonald already made that impossible. Should have anyway.

  7. If he was cleverer than I have any reason to believe he is, he’d speak out against gun control.


    Because the Progressives on the Left have nowhere to run to oppose him, realistically, so he can’t lose their support (not that it’s universal that Progressives and Leftists are anti-gun, though it’s really common).

    The Right won’t start believing him (though a show of talking down bills and telling the Democrats that he’d prefer they not vote for them might make that start happening), but the more generous among them would note that it’s an excellent precedent and good policy.

    And the moderate middle, which is pretty gun-friendly nationwide, as the polls report, would see it as Washington not exploiting a “crisis” to their detriment.

    No loss and two wins.

    As a matter of pure political triangulation it’s a winner all around for President Obama, if he was to try it.

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