April 18, 2013

It was cruel of the president to involve the Sandy Hook families in a fight that was not their fight. For all the good they can do and all the deference and respect they deserve, it is a travesty that the families of the Sandy Hook victims were used as props and lobbyists and that the tragedy of Sandy Hook was contorted into a Washington legislative battle about expanding the federal paperwork required to make a gun purchase. The Sandy Hook families didn’t create this farce; it was the president’s idea.

The president let his craving to embark on a liberal crusade get the best of him, and, in the process, he reminded us again about how little he knows about government. President Obama’s inability to master the levers of power in Washington isn’t just unflattering to him, this time he also disappointed innocent people who don’t deserve to be disappointed.

I’m surprised that very little, if anything at all, is going to happen regarding gun control. Following the shooting, I cautioned Republicans that we needed to find something to be for. I said that we should not take the position that we cannot think of one useful thing to do and deny that Sandy Hook was a catalyst for action. Well, the president has managed to squander the opportunity and make it impossible to pass anything. He couldn’t write a good bill, and he could not count votes. This is a bad omen for the administration. Even in the hours after the defeat in the Senate, the president appeared wounded and angry, and his spokesmen were defensive. President Obama and the Democrats couldn’t force the passage of any of their proposals, even under these unusual circumstances, so how will anything get done in the one year the president has left to try to orchestrate effective governance?

No Republican will pay a political price for his or her stance on this issue in November. Republicans in Congress are nothing if not confident in their position. And now many of the president’s critics and opponents are emboldened by his ineffectiveness.

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.