The Freedom of No Plausible Bipartisan Agenda
It is worth pointing out the irony that the Republican Party’s behavior over the past four years probably played a big role in President Obama’s decision to make a big push for gun control. One of the overriding goals of Obama seems to have been accomplishing big pieces of legislation in a “bipartisan” way. Obama didn’t just want to end “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” which he could have done day one with an executive order, he wanted to end it with a bipartisan bill. Obama didn’t just want health care reform, which he could have quickly passed with reconciliation, he wanted 80 votes for it in the Senate.
The Republican Party though has made it clear this is never going to happen. They have zero desire to work with Obama on anything. It is so obvious that the GOP was not going to let Obama do anything big that his campaign barely even talked about a second term legislative agenda.
As it currently stands, the only pieces of legislation Obama has a chance of passing in his second term is something to clean up this fiscal cliff/debt limit/sequestration mess and possibly a immigration reform measure. That is not a lot spread over four years.
This has given Obama the freedom of nothing to lose. I imagine if Obama still thought there was even a chance of getting bipartisan support for other issues, he would probably push gun control to the back burner, but right now there is nothing else. There is no concern about “poisoning the well” for future bipartisan action because that well is already pure cyanide.
With no real hope of passing anything else Obama might as well try to seize an emotionally powerful moment in the thin hope that a grassroots outcry will force the GOP to let something pass.
Photo by Elizabeth Cromwell under Creative Commons license