The battle for gun reform in the wake of the Newtown killings ended in defeat this year. But it’s clear that it also ushered in a new moment for the gun reform movement. It launched a new effort to build a national political infrastructure to challenge the NRA — one more broad and savvy than previous ones, and one that isn’t going away. Those who are involved in this new effort conceive of this battle as a protracted and difficult one that could take many years, and seem prepared to stick it out over the long haul.
The latest: I’m told that venture capitalist and major Democratic donor Kenneth Lerer is rolling out a new campaign today to target gun violence and the NRA. The campaign includes a new Web site, StopTheNRA.com, that offers videos and news articles about the gun lobby’s excesses and extremism, and gives people a place to sign up to join a lobbying campaign to push for gun reform.
“The point of StopTheNRA is to post and create viral content and put it all in one place to bring ongoing attention to the outrageous positions of the NRA and to continue to bring pressure on the issues,” Lerer tells me.
Lerer, you may recall, is one of several top donors who has vowed to withhold contributions from Democrats who vote against gun control. Lerer says his effort will include targeted contributions to Dems who are good on gun issues and organizing among other top Dem donors to encourage them to withhold from Dems who toe the NRA line.
Some Democrats and gun control advocates privately acknowledge that during the recent battle not enough was done to shed light on NRA extremism or to drive home that it primarily represents the interests of gun manufactures and that even its own members don’t side with its positions on issues such as background checks. The new campaign seems designed to change this over time — even as the issue recedes from the national headlines.
History tells us the gun issue will always come up again. Lerer’s effort is another sign of the determination of the gun reform movement to build a national infrastructure to counterbalance the NRA in preparation for the fights that will inevitably unfold later — not just on the federal level, but in state capitols, too, another key battleground.
The broader movement underway is all about changing basic, deeply ingrained underlying dynamics that favor the “gun rights” side. It includes new efforts by Mike Bloomberg’s group to keep hammering NRA-friendly red state Democrats, on the theory that the only way to get them to do the right thing is to show that they will pay a political price among Democrats for doing the wrong thing — and that they are proceeding from the mistaken assumption that their constituents are more conservative on gun issues than they actually are. Bloomberg’s group will keep doing this, even if it has bad consequences for the Democratic Party in the short term. There’s also the group launched by Gabriel Giffords and husband Mark Kelly, which recently announced it had raised a staggering $11 million in just a few months to push for gun control.
Alec MacGillis recently declared in a good New Republic story that the gun control movement has arrived, and that the NRA’s days are numbered. I don’t know that I share quite that level of optimism, but it’s clear something new and different is underway.
* PUBLIC DOESN’T HOLD OBAMA RESPONSIBLE FOR SCANDALS, BUT SAYS THEY RAISE DOUBTS: A new NBC/WSJ poll contains mixed findings about the “scandals”: It finds that only minorities say Obama is responsible for them — 33 percent on the IRS; 37 percent on the DOJ seizure of reporter phone records; 41 percent on Benghazi. Meanwhile, far larger numbers say he’s only slightly or not at all responsible for them. And 55 percent say Obama is suffering only a short term setback or no setback at all, versus only 43 percent who say it is a long term setback.
However, majorities say the stories “raise doubts about the overall honesty and integrity” of the Obama administration. And Americans say by 50-42 that investigations into them are justified. My takeaway: Americans want an accounting, but are not persuaded of the lurid conservative charges of Nixonian presidential wrongdoing.
* GOP LEADERSHIP FULLY BEHIND DARRELL ISSA’S ATTACKS: Relatedly, the National Journal reports that the House GOP leadership is fully behind House investigations chief Darrell Issa’s incendiary rhetoric, including his suggestion that White House spokesman Jay Carney is a “paid liar,” and his blatant stretching of the evidence in suggesting White House coordination of the IRS targeting.
Republicans can’t decide how openly to acknowledge that the pursuit of the scandals is all about weakening Obama. Only last week, Issa was bending over backwards to appear far more measured, insisting that the scandals are “not about President Obama” and that Republicans are “not accusing the president” of anything yet.
* GOP IS PARTYING LIKE IT’S 1999: Dana Milbank has a good piece detailing the degree to which Republicans are rerunning the 1990s playbook; even as the economy is improving, they are charging forward with their 24/7 effort to tie scandal-palooza to Obama. I’d missed this great nugget on how the scandals are serving as the means to unify divided Republicans:
One of the few things that unite them is the investigation of scandals. A few weeks ago, Heritage Action for America, an influential conservative group, suggested that House Republicans focus on investigations and avoid legislation that could divide them.
Focus on scandals rather than on policy! Perfectly captures what all of this is about.
* ECONOMIC OPTIMISM RISING: Indeed, a new Bloomberg poll finds that optimism is creeping upwards on a range of economic issues, from job security to home values to household income, though majorities still say the country is on the wrong track. This echoes other recent surveys, and raises the possibility that we could be heading into 2014 with an accelerating economy even as Republicans keep railing about scandal-palooza and betting on Obama implementation failures.
* RUBIO KEEPS PUSHING IMMIGRATION REFORM TO THE RIGHT: The Florida Senator, a pivotal figure in the immigration battle, is now claiming he will vote against his own bill if Senators cannot agree to amend it to make it even stricter on border security than it already is. This seems of a piece with Rubio’s delicate balancing act: He needs to be perceived to be looking out for the interests of conservatives as he moves the bill forward.
The question, again, is how far to the right this bill can be moved, given the enormous concessions it has made already on border security. By any measure this is already a compromise proposal. Is there anything that can really make it acceptable to conservatives who can’t accept a path to citizenship?
* HOW FAR TO THE RIGHT CAN IMMIGRATION REFORM GO? Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas explain it:
Politico reports that Rubio is partnering with Sen. John Cornyn on a sweeping amendment that would require “stricter border patrol provisional ‘triggers’ before registered immigrants are allowed to apply for green card status. His amendment would require 100 percent operational control of the Southern borders and that 90 percent of illegal border crossers be apprehended. It would also require 100 percent border surveillance, or situational awareness, of each one-mile segment of the Southern border and installment of a national E-Verify system before registered immigrants can pursue green cards.”
That sure sounds as if no one is ever getting a green card. That level of operational control — unless operational control is defined quite far down — is nearly impossible.
Which is exactly the point.
* AND THE GOP “CHARM OFFENSIVE” WHINE OF THE DAY: Chuck Grassley calls Obama the “most stonewalling president this country has ever had,” even as he complains that Obama hasn’t called him in four years. The Hill, with a straight face, actually offers this comment:
The lack of communication between the Iowa Republican and the president is an indication that Obama’s new “charm offensive” with Republicans on Capitol Hill has come up short.