Torn between two theories to explain his latest tweet.
1. He’s a loudmouthed imbecile who fundamentally doesn’t understand why stuff like this will steel opposition on the right to the sort of red-flag bill he’s endorsed.
2. He’s playing eight-dimensional chess, deliberately sabotaging the push for a new red-flag bill to please his base by showing immediately how it would be abused by the government once it’s law.
Guess which theory I’m leaning towards.
Would Chris Cuomo be given a Red Flag for his recent rant? Filthy language and a total loss of control. He shouldn’t be allowed to have any weapon. He’s nuts!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 13, 2019
“This is like a parody of what opponents of red flag laws say they’re worried about,” said lefty Benjy Sarlin of that tweet, correctly.
With one Tweet POTUS explains how red flag laws can and will be abused. https://t.co/3W4J6JQl9f
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) August 13, 2019
The argument against red-flag laws is that they’ll be abused to justify confiscating weapons on flimsy pretexts from people who aren’t dangerous to others. Now here’s the president validating that concern before Lindsey Graham’s bill has even received a vote in Congress. Are you worried that the government might exploit the new legal regime to punish its political and media enemies who own guns? Well, per Trump, apparently you should be.
In fact, now that I think about it, Trump killing off a gun-control push by showing that he himself couldn’t be trusted to execute the new law responsibly is more like 12-dimensional chess. “I’m too tyrannically inclined to trust with a weapons ban” is an efficient way to give both the right and the left cold feet about new gun-control initiatives.
Not the first time he’s thought-farted his way into an uncomfortable moment while trying to sell gun control to the right, though, notes Sarlin. Remember this?
President Trump said Wednesday he favors taking guns away from people who might commit violence before going through legal due process in the courts, one of many startling comments he made in a rambling White House meeting designed to hash out school safety legislation with a bipartisan group of lawmakers.
“I like taking guns away early,” Trump said. “Take the guns first, go through due process second.”
That’s the sort of thing you say when you haven’t spent five minutes of your life thinking about due process. Last year’s push for new gun laws, after the Parkland massacre, ended in failure as the public gradually moved on to other topics and righty advocacy groups like the NRA leaned more heavily on Trump in private not to follow through. This one will probably end the same way — although, ironically, Trump has such enormous sway over the righty base that Senate Republicans might be willing to vote for a red-flag bill he’s supporting even though a tweet like the one he just published coming from a Democratic president would be Exhibit A in why the feds can never, ever be trusted with such power.
Two people who’ve spoken to the president in recent days say that he has referenced, during conversations about how he could possibly bend the NRA to his will in this case, his annoyance at media coverage of his post-Parkland about-face that suggested he was all talk and no action on the issue, and easily controlled by the NRA. One of the sources noted that Trump’s aversion to being seen as “controlled” by anyone or any organization makes it much more likely that the president will dwell on the issue for longer than he did last year.
Trump’s influence could well make or break legislation, since Republicans are unlikely to support anything without his blessing but will be just as hesitant to immediately reject a bill he puts his full support behind.
“Many Hill Republicans are waiting to see what Trump will get behind,” said a Senate GOP aide. “He gives them political cover. I don’t think you’re going to see any one bill or one proposal get any momentum until the President publicly endorses it.”
Further evidence that Trump might be serious is the fact that Ivanka is reportedly calling around to swing votes like Joe Manchin to sound them out. Gun-control fans might also be helped here by the recent panic within the GOP after several House Republicans retired that Texas is turning purple as suburbs there drift towards the Democrats. If, say, John Cornyn has cover from Trump on supporting a red-flag bill, would he vote for it in order to mollify Texas’s suburban voters? If not, what about a Thom Tillis or Richard Burr?
Via the Examiner, here’s Graham on Fox this morning touting his red-flag bill. A key element is the fact that confiscation in “red flag” cases wouldn’t happen at the federal level: Graham’s calling for grants to state PDs so that they can hire mental health experts to advise them in state “red flag” proceedings. That federalist approach will make it marginally more palatable to righties.