Now that a few days have passed since the Aurora massacre, will there be any kind of effort at a policy response to an event that claimed the lives of a dozen Americans and wounded dozens more? The answer already appears to be No — and even worse, the question may not even be debated in the context of the presidential campaign.
Michael Bloomberg is pushing Obama and Romney to step up on the issue. As Bloomberg rightly notes, a presidential campaign is exactly the place where you’d expect a high profile debate on a pressing policy issue that is a life or death matter to American voters.
But at the press gaggle yesterday, White House spokesman Jay Carney essentially took the issue off the table. Here’s the key exchange, per the White House transcript:
CARNEY: The President’s view is that we can take steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them under existing law. And that’s his focus right now.
QUESTION: In terms of like assault weapons or something like that, there’s no renewed push for a renewed assault weapons ban?
CARNEY: Well, as you know, there has been opposition to that since it expired within Congress, and I think — I wouldn’t argue with your assessment about that.
No push for a change in existing law, and no renewed push for the assault weapons ban. I’m sympathetic to the argument that a change in law can’t get through Congress. But it’s remarkable that in the wake of such horrific carnage that claimed the lives of so many American citizens, the question of whether we should even try to mount a policy response won’t even be debated in the context of the presidential race.
* Dozens of mass murders in the last three decades: The chart of the day, from Mother Jones, illustrates the extent of the national carnage in depressing detail, and in the process, illustrates the extent to which our political leaders have completely abdicated their responsibility to do anything about it.
* Shooter easily ordered stockpiles of ammunition online: Amazing:
With a few keystrokes, the suspect, James E. Holmes, ordered 3,000 rounds of handgun ammunition, 3,000 rounds for an assault rifle and 350 shells for a 12-gauge shotgun — an amount of firepower that costs roughly $3,000 at the online sites — in the four months before the shooting, according to the police. It was pretty much as easy as ordering a book from Amazon.
* Yes, Romney is distorting “didn’t build that” quote: Glenn Kessler demolishes Romney’s ongoing falsehoods, noting that conservative claims about Obama’s larger argument don’t change the simple truth that Romney’s use of the specific “didn’t build that” quote out of context clearly alters its meaning.
I continue to wonder: If the larger context doesn’t help Obama, why does Romney need to edit the quote in this fashion and, worse, to conceal the fact that he edited it?
* State by state unemployment numbers could help Obama: Chris Cillizza digs into state by state unemployment data and finds: In many of the most contested states, unemployment is lower than the national average or it’s trending downward.
Of course, some political scientists tell us that voters make up their minds based on their sense of the national economic climate, and swing states tend to rise and fall with national opinion. So if this does end up mattering it will be another way this election defies expectations.
Obama appears in much better shape now than the two recently elected presidents who were denied a second term — Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush — both of whom averaged below 40% approval their 14th quarters in office. At the same time, Obama is not as well-positioned as the post-World War II elected presidents who were above 50% during their 14th quarters and who all won re-election easily.
Since approval numbers are the most important thing to be watching right now, this again underscores that this will be an extremely close race and will likely remain so throughout.
* Romney set for overseas trip: With Romney set to embark on his trip abroad tomorrow, Michael Shear has a nice curtain-raiser laying out the potential pluses and pitfalls Romney faces.
One thing to watch for: Whether his lack of specificity about his foreign policy positions, combined with his clear lack of strength in that area, produce the kind of misstep that undermines his aura of comfort on the world stage — which would of course undermine the whole point of the trip in the first place.
* Is Harry Reid really serious about filibuster reform? Democrats who have discussed it with him seem to think that this time around he may really be prepared to change the rules at the start of the new session (presuming Dems hold control of the Senate). I still find it hard to believe that Reid would go through with it; for now I’m inclined to view his hints in this direction as passing but justifiable expressions of frustration with GOP obstructionism.
* And Romney pushback on tax returns continues: The latest: Former McCain adviser Steve Schmidt assures us that the McCain campagin found nothing in the 23 years of returns Romney showed them that was “disqualifying,” adding that they showed that “he’s a person of decency with the highest ethical character.”
Great to hear! So why not release more of them, then?