President Barack Obama speaks at an interfaith vigil for Sandy Hook victims - Olivier Douliery/ President Barack Obama at a vigil for Sandy Hook victims. Olivier Douliery/

That the president tomorrow would turn his weekly radio address over to a mother of a Sandy Hook victim tells you much about his own powers of persuasion and priorities.

The president is infamously poor at convincing Republicans to do his bidding — whether on taxes or healthcare. But the White House has what it thinks is a better sales force for anti-gun legislation: the Sandy Hook parents. This is not unlike the Sept. 11 families who pushed for a bipartisan commission and implementation of its recommendations. Victims, especially grieving parents, are infinitely better at getting lawmakers to do things when reasoned arguments and threats of political repercussion fail.

More interesting though is how totally and deeply invested in anti-gun legislation the president is. He put out a budget. North Korea is threatening war. Obamacare’s rollout is a disaster. But he wants to hand the mike to a Sandy Hook mom. Why?

Several factors explain his obsession with legislation that, as we saw with the Toomey-Manchin amendment, is being systematically watered down, a sign the Dems are desperate for a bill, no matter how limp. (Sen. Pat Toomey’s office today is reminding gun owners of all the goodies he stuffed into the amendment, including penalties for creating a gun registry, legalization of innterstate hand guns, and an exemption from background checks for holders of concealed-weapon permits.) But the legislation is one item for which the president can claim credit and that has a chance of passing.

His budget is DOA. Immigration is a Senate affair (he’s been trying to get in on the action with speeches but has been a non-player). So his only real win in his second term may be on a gun bill without an assault-weapons ban, without a limit on high-capacity magazines and a minimal extension of background checks.

It is also part of his effort to pump up his own base, hoping to flip the House and hold onto the Senate in 2014. Anti-gun legislation is a favorite among liberal elites, the sort of people the Democrats needs to give money and turn out to vote in 2014.

The economy, which is at the top of voters’ list of priorities, is slumping again. Job creation is weak and retail sales took a tumble. Reuters reports:

Retail sales contracted in March for the second time in three months and consumer confidence tumbled in April, a sign tax hikes early this year stole momentum from the economy.

Sales fell 0.4 percent in March, missing analysts’ expectations for a flat reading, Commerce Department data showed on Friday.

The data suggests consumer spending was considerably weaker in the first quarter than analysts previously believed, and many cut economic growth forecasts for the period.

Prior reports had made consumers look relatively resilient despite an increase in tax rates in January on most Americans.

The president has no idea about how to revive the economy. He is pushing proposals that make it harder to hire, invest and spend.

The expiration of the payroll tax cut is the culprit on retail sales, and for this the president deserves blame. He never pushed the issue with Congress. He is obsessed with punishing the rich, and he didn’t really focus on the middle and lower classes about which he claims to care so deeply.

In short, the president is relying on parents of dead children to save his second term and deliver an accomplishment. Nothing wrong with that, but let’s be honest about what he is doing, how he is doing it and how measly is the bill he will force the left to celebrate as a “victory.”


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