However ill doing so may bode for their electoral chances in 2014, as Ed explained last week, certain Congressional and administrative Democrats have been quietly reviving some of the gun-control ideas that Congress declined to pass last April, most specifically expanded background checks. In that spirit, the White House just put out a report detailing what they are calling their “progress” on the 23 executive actions that President Obama promised to get to work on implementing last January, and they again deployed the vice president to act as their point man on the issue at a speech at the White House on Tuesday afternoon:
Two months after the Senate failed to support the expansion of background checks for gun purchasers, Vice President Joe Biden hosts an event at the White House on Tuesday to show how the administration has continued efforts to reduce gun violence.
Biden in a speech will discuss the administration’s progress on 21 out of 23 executive actions produced by a gun violence task force he led after the deadly Dec. 14, 2012, shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. …
The progress achieved includes ending the ban on government research of gun violence, increasing reporting efforts from states about potentially dangerous gun purchasers and enhancing the tracking of guns recovered in criminal investigations, according to a progress report on the actions to be released by the White House. …
The progress report will also emphasize that Congress needs to act to reduce gun violence. (On Monday, a senior administration official said the executive actions “are in no way a replacement for concrete legislative action.”)
Why the renewed push, when the issue is hardly what we’d call an election-winner for Democrats at the margin? Well, for one thing, as Josh Kraushaar points out at National Journal, President Obama has throughout his presidency enjoyed steadfast support from his Democratic base, but all of the scandals and sketchiness going on in his administration might for the first time be putting a pretty serious damper on his typically reliable contingents:
Through the highs and lows of his two terms, President Obama has always maintained rock-solid approval ratings with his base. He won a second term in surprisingly comfortable fashion by rallying young voters, single women, and minorities to his side. But the controversy over the administration’s surveillance techniques is exposing, for the first time, a potential soft spot with one of those core groups.
In a new CNN/ORC poll, Obama’s job approval dropped 8 points in the last month to 45 percent. Among Americans age 18-29, that number slipped 17 points. Democratic pollsters told National Journal‘s Ron Fournier they are seeing similar trend lines emerging.
Gun control is a major issue for the president’s fan base of true believers, and now might be a pretty good time to fall back and remind them that they’re still serious about fundamental issues and committed to Doing Something — which conveniently allows them to simultaneously and pointedly remind everyone about that blasted, obstructionist Republican Congress they’re up against.
For another thing, Chris Cillizza points out at WaPo that Joe Biden probably has a bit of political strategery somewhere in his mind as well:
Biden knows how to make a deal: If gun control is taken up again in this Congress — something that seems like a long-shot but could happen — and Biden continues to stay after the issue, it would 1) Boost his reputation as a Capitol Hill gridlock-breaker with an ability to resurrect legislative debates that looked like they weren’t going anywhere. And 2) Behoove the administration to have him in the mix during the renewed negotiations.
Anyhow, in his actual and completely recycled speech, Biden tried to challenge the notion that gun-control is a losing issue for many Democrats and insisted that the country has actually changed, that many of the proposed measures are “common sense” ideas with which the vast majority of the country agrees and that everyone’s opinions have really shifted leftward. But, er… really? Via Charles C.W. Cooke at NRO:
Meanwhile, supposedly vulnerable Arkansan senator, Mark Pryor, is running re-election commercials in which he not only stands by his vote on Toomey-Manchin but hits out at both President Obama and Michael Bloomberg; Colorado’s electorate is showing signs of tiring of its one party rule, while voters in the districts of gun-controlling representatives are considering recalls; on the back of a sweeping new gun law, Connecticut’s 53rd District went Republican for the first time since Richard Nixon was in the White House; and in New York, the Times Union reports today:
“Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s popularity has slipped, a poll released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University shows, likely due to Cuomo’s aggressive advocacy for a gun control bill that he signed into law earlier this month.”