It's been two weeks now since various gun control measures went down in flames in the US Senate, prompting President Obama to don his petulance pants and lecture us from the Rose Garden. In that time I've read quite a few pieces by Democrats seeking to explain, in one way or another, how gun control could fail in the wake of the Newtown mass shooting. Some blame the NRA, of course. Some blame Republicans, of course. Some even blame Obama, but not for the reasons I'm going to cite. Pretty much all are long on self-pity and short on self-examination, so here are my criticisms of the pro-gun control side, because they are every bit to blame, if not more, than the NRA and Republicans.(This is a long one, so I'll put most of it below the fold)
Obama's poor leadership
When Obama outsourced the issue to Joe Biden, the probability for meaningful action took an immediate and negative hit. At that moment Obama signalled that it was really going to be business as usual, in other words it was going to be "inside the beltway politics." In the short term that was probably smart politics for Obama personally, but it was also another missed opportunity for him to match the greatness of his office.
He could have taken the role of an honest broker between the two sides and step by step publicly guided the conversation toward what was possible. That would have meant swallowing his own personal preferences for the moment and acting as President of all of these United States to bring both sides together. I suppose many in both party establishments would consider that idea naive, but my gut tells me the less ideological on both sides and independents would have eaten it up. Besides, isn't that the Hope and Change president we've been promised twice now?(I know, I know, that was always phony, but I couldn't resist)
Biden's Poor Leadership
Many projects fail before they even begin because the problem and/or the scope of the solution are not properly defined from the start. I've seen it countless times over the years to the point where I can smell a looming clusterf*ck from a mile away. As I noted here and here, the problems of overall gun violence and mass killing are related but also distinct, and they have related but also distinct solution sets.
A tightly focused effort on Biden's part might have had a chance, but instead we got what was basically a free for all of gun control wish list items, regardless of how effective they would be in preventing the next mass shooting or daily gun violence on the streets.
To be fair to Biden, the Washington Post back in January noted how Obama had tied his hands somewhat from the start. Still, he wasn't just Obama's puppet on this issue. He fully embraced Obama's strategy of foregone conclusions, emotion over reason, and divisiveness through demonization. That worked in the last general election with the media covering their backs, but as shown in the results two weeks ago, it's a disastrous way to try to govern.