February 13, 2013

President Obama’s cloying plea to Congress that the victims of gun violence and their families “deserve” a vote on his anti-gun legislation was, on one level, simply standard-fare manipulative theatrics, but it was also just bizarre. Who is stopping the Senate from voting on his anti-gun wish list?


Sen. Mary Landrieu is one of the vulnerable red-state Democrats on the 2014 ballot. -Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

I presume that Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) must be a cold-hearted man indeed to delay bringing anti-gun legislation to the floor of the Senate. Perhaps one of the GOP senators should do so (as they have done for the president’s budgets). But of course that won’t happen. I imagine during that part of the speech, red-state Democratic senators, especially those on the ballot in 2014, were breaking into a cold sweat. They already carry the burden of being the 60th vote on the unpopular Obamacare. Now the president wants them to vote on an assault weapons ban? No siree. President Obama’s histrionics cannot conceal an unpleasant reality: He likely doesn’t have a majority of his own party in the Senate who would support his anti-gun proposals.

This is what Obama lives for, the sort of empty gesture untied to political reality that is designed to make Republicans looks like they are up to no good. But in fact the gun ploy was only one part of a speech that certainly must have horrified the likes of Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska), who will find themselves tied to Obama in their 2014 races and painted as rubber stamps for the far-left president.

What in that State of the Union is attractive for a red-state Democratic senator? They certainly are not going to thrill to the laundry list of spending items. More tax hikes? No support for the Keystone Pipeline? Climate control legislation? It’s a political nightmare and a huge opening for Republican candidates, provided primary voters don’t nominate a bunch of self-destructive, unappealing characters like they did in 2010 and 2012.

UPDATE: Stephen Hayes discusses the topic here.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.