Says the man who promised, “If you like your [health insurance] plan, you can keep your plan,” and who promised to lead a new era of post-partisan comity in his presidency — and then decided to spend years rehashing the gun-control debate that Democrats lost years ago. But Barack Obama insists that gun owners can trust him now when he says if you like your guns, you can keep your guns! Oh, and stop impugning his motives, all you murder-cheering gun-rights activists, or something:
— NBC News (@NBCNews) January 5, 2016
If it’s not a “plot to take away everybody’s guns,” then why does Obama keep bringing up Australia as a model for gun control? It’s not an accident; Obama has mentioned Australia (and the UK, which had a confiscatory policy as well) on several occasions, including last October:
We know that other countries, in response to one mass shooting, have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings. Friends of ours, allies of ours — Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours. So we know there are ways to prevent it.
“Couple of decades ago, Australia had a mass shooting, similar to Columbine or Newtown. And Australia just said, well, that’s it, we’re not doing, we’re not seeing that again, and basically imposed very severe, tough gun laws, and they haven’t had a mass shooting since. Our levels of gun violence are off the charts. There’s no advanced, developed country that would put up with this.” …
In other words, the president of the United States just praised a government for forcefully removing all semi-automatic firearms (i.e. a remarkable number of the guns in America and the majority of those sold today) from its citizenry.
Let me be clear, as Obama likes to say: You simply cannot praise Australia’s gun-laws without praising the country’s mass confiscation program. That is Australia’s law. When the Left says that we should respond to shootings as Australia did, they don’t mean that we should institute background checks on private sales; they mean that they we should ban and confiscate guns. No amount of wooly words can change this. Again, one doesn’t bring up countries that have confiscated firearms as a shining example unless one wishes to push the conversation toward confiscation.
This is the kind of disingenuous double-speak in which Obama routinely traffics. In the wake of the Newtown shooting, the mention of which caused Obama to tear up today, he demanded a renewal of the so-called “assault weapons” ban, provoking a furious reaction before retreating to a background-check proposal instead. The well had already been poisoned, however, and the effort failed. He’s made repeated references (Dan McLaughlin counts four times) to confiscatory policies elsewhere as a model for modern nations, and then expresses surprise and indignation when people dare to assume he means it.
If you like your Glock, you can … eh, you get the point.
Today’s tearful, yelling tantrum in front of the cameras proves a point I had written earlier in my column for The Week today. This showy exercise of executive action and the wide disparity between its build-up and delivery showcases Obama’s weakness and petulance, not his authority and credibility:
At the heart of the problem is Obama’s refusal to acknowledge the verdict of voters in two midterm landslide losses. When Obama took office seven years ago, his Democratic Party controlled both chambers of Congress and a fair number of state legislatures. Obama now has a Congress controlled by the GOP and a record number of state legislatures in Republican control. The country, while giving Obama a second term, made it clear that they want the GOP to curb his agenda. When Bill Clinton found himself in a similar position, he famously “triangulated” on key issues to pre-empt Republican efforts. He found ways to work with his opposition on issues that mattered to both — welfare reform comes immediately to mind — and effectively outboxed them on budgetary issues while still getting important agenda items accomplished through the normal political process.
Obama, on the other hand, has become even more determined to take his political ball and stomp off to the White House alone. That necessarily limits his range of action, while giving Obama an excuse for failure. “It is my strong belief that for us to get our complete arms around the problem Congress needs to act,” Obama insisted on Monday. But that goal requires a president who understands how to work with Congress. Pushing rhetoric about Australia’s solution and then demanding that Republicans budge on gun regulation is a symptom of weakness and failure, not power and accomplishment.
If Obama wants to build a lasting and positive impact in his final year in office, he’ll need to climb down from his high horse and work with the Congress that people elected in 2014. Legacies are built on legislation, which gives permanence and legitimacy. Temper tantrums have almost no impact at all in the long run. That will become even more obvious in 2017 if a Republican succeeds Obama as president. As easily as Obama changed regulatory definitions and processes, a GOP president can erase his work and eliminate Obama’s legacy — and almost certainly will do so.
In this sense, today was classic Barack Obama. And that’s no compliment.
Update: Video added.