Since the horrific shootings in Newtown, CT, we've seen innumerable stories and diaries trumpeting a new movement towards either a new, stronger assault weapons ban or, at the very least, common-sense legislation that would ban the kind of enlarged magazines we saw in Newtown and the ammunition drum used in the Aurora, CO theater shooting. What's more, many are celebrating the transformation of NRA-backed politicians (both Republican and Democrat) to this way of thinking. If it's real, then Wayne LaPierre's got a Grover Norquist-sized problem on his hands.
But is it real?
The reasons why I'm not sure after the Socialist tangerine beignet.
You'd think after the hailstorm of criticism that followed his head-spinning "press un-avail" on Friday, LaPierre would go to ground and keep his mouth shut. Instead, he's doubling down:
GREGORY: This is a matter of logic, Mr. LaPierre, because anybody watching this is going to say 'Hey, wait a minute. I just heard Mr. LaPierre say that the standard is we should try anything that might reduce the violence. And you’re telling me that it’s not a matter of common sense that if you don’t have an ability to shoot off 30 rounds without reloading, that just possibly you could reduce the loss of life? Would Adam Lanza have been able to shoot as many kids if he didn’t have as much ammunition?'Theoretically, there's a reason LaPierre is even feistier (or more paranoid-schizophrenic, whichever...) than usual. After Newtown, voices in Congress LaPierre has counted on to fear his wrath are making noises the press has ballyhooed as proof that new, sensible gun legislation is only days or weeks away. Let's start with Sen. Joe Manchin, one of several Democrats with an "A" rating from the NRA:
LAPIERRE: I don’t buy your argument for a minute.
“I want to call all our friends at the NRA and sit down,” Manchin said. “They have to be at the table. This is a time for all of us to sit down and move in a responsible manner. I think they will.”"Okay," you say, "but he's a Democrat! Remember? They're the ones that are supposed to be conciliatory!" Fair enough. How about someone who's a little more wing-nutty?
Manchin said it was crucial to involve the NRA in the conversation. “You have to have everybody at the table, not just the people you think will support this. I’m a lifetime [NRA] member and I’m willing to sit down and ask all of my colleagues to sit down.”
If that video had been nice enough to embed, you would have seen Jennifer Granholm talking with Rep. Jack Kingston (Douchenozzle-GA), and you can't get much more wing-nutty than him... or can you?
In an interview on KFGO-AM of Fargo-Moorhead, Peterson said last week's massacre at a Connecticut elementary school "has to some extent changed the conversation." And, he added, "I'm willing to have this discussion as long as everything is on the table." But he suggested that the discussion should include violent video games and movies.Well, apparently, everybody is on the same page: Everybody wants to sit down "at the table" and "have a discussion" about how nightmares like Newtown happen, and what we can do to stop them. Not just namby-pamby liberals or secret Kenyan Muslim sleeper agents who can't get voted out of office again! Everybody loves them some "table."
Rep. Tim Walz, a Democrat from southern Minnesota who was also re-elected with NRA endorsement, said this week he's rethinking his opposition to the assault weapons ban, which existed for 10 years until it expired in 2004. He stopped short of endorsing a new assault weapons ban, but said the killings in Connecticut had shifted the ground under the debate, and predicted that Second Amendment supporters and the gun lobby are ready to show some flexibility.
So why should Sen. Dianne Feinstein get ready for one hard slog when she introduces a new & improved assault-weapons ban on January 3rd? For that, let's look at other times when "the table" was in fashion. Let's go back to 2010 and talk about defense spending, among other things. Can I get a future Speaker of the House from the congregation?
“Are you willing to perhaps raise the Social Security retirement age?,” Lauer asked Cantor Tuesday morning. “Are you willing to make cuts in Medicare? Are you willing to make cuts in defense spending? Are any of those issues on the table?”The table was popular in 2008, too, especially when this guy was trying to beat "That One!"
“I think, you know, we’ve got to have everything on the table right now,” Cantor said. “That’s also what we heard from the people on November 2. … Everything should be on the table. I don’t think we should leave any stone unturned while we’re trying to do what most have in this country have done, which is tighten the belt, which is to try and live within our means.”
Last week, Sen. McCain called for the federal government to spend $300 billion to refinance distressed mortgages so homeowners wouldn't owe more than their houses are worth amid the recent slide in home values. Tuesday's package was a recognition that he must continue to put new ideas on the table as he tries to make up ground on Sen. Obama over the next three weeks.It all looked good then. It all sounded good then. We were going to get something done then... and then it all went to Hell:
"With so much on the line, the moment requires that government act -- and as president I intend to act, quickly and decisively," Sen. McCain told a rally outside Philadelphia.
Back in June, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) — who is serving on President Obama’s debt commission — told me it was unlikely that the commission was going to come to an agreement, because the commission’s Republican members were opposing all tax increases. “[They] give some lip service to ‘everything should be on the table,’ then, when it actually comes to what kind of revenue can we raise, are closing that door and taking it off the table,” Schakowsky said.As you can see, we've seen it before. Defense cuts were "on the table"... until they weren't. Tax increases were "on the table"... until they weren't. Taking away tax breaks from companies who send jobs overseas was "on the table"... until it wasn't. Now sensible gun-control measures are "on the table" until... when?
In October, another commission member, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), echoed Schakowsky’s warning, saying that “there is no chance fellow Republicans on the president’s deficit commission will endorse tax increases.” And during an interview with Bloomberg’s Al Hunt, Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) — a commission member who is also in line to chair the House Ways and Means Committee next year — made Schakowsky look prophetic by saying that tax increases of any sort are indeed “off the table“:
Hey, as a formerly funny guy named Dennis Miller once said, "But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong." Maybe Newtown was the tipping point. Maybe LaPierre overplayed his hand, and is continuing to do so. Maybe Dems like Manchin and Warner aren't just covering their asses. Maybe this time we'll get it done, and this time it'll stick.
But I'll believe it when I see it.