Biden versus Goliath

When President Obama announced that Vice President Biden would be chairing a task force to come up with recommendations on gun restrictions, he said, "This is not some Washington commission. This is not something where folks are going to be studying the issue for six months and publishing a report that gets read and then pushed aside." 

Anyone who has been around Washington for a while had a right to be skeptical; commissions and task forces—select, blue-ribbon, high-level, and every other kind—come and go, and rarely have much of an impact on policy. But perhaps—perhaps—this time will be different. After all, 695 Americans have been killed with guns since the Sandy Hook massacre, and we're now taking notice in ways we haven't in years. 

That isn't to say the NRA and its allies in Congress won't put up a fight over even the most modest measures to contain the carnage. But cracks are beginning to show in their heretofore impenetrable wall of opposition, and public opinion is turning against them. 

The awful truth is that the thing most likely to produce a real change in policy is yet another mass shooting. Given our recent history, we probably won't be waiting long.

So They Say

“It’s embarrassing as hell. We’ve been through all of this with [2012 GOP presidential nominee] Mitt Romney. And we were very hard with Mitt Romney with the women binder and a variety of things. And I kind of think there’s no excuse with the second term.”

Congressman Charlie Rangel, taking the White House to task for its lack of diversity 

Daily Meme: Biden and the NRA Goliath

  • Vice President Biden met with gun-sports groups today (like Ducks Unlimited, which publishes important articles like "8 Duck Calls Every Duck Hunter Must Master"), the first meeting of a Big Block of Cheese day devoted to hearing out interests who may take issue with the White House's interests in pursuing gun regulation. 
  • The meeting marathon will be followed up by the VP's official recommendations for gun policy legislation on Tuesday.
  • The National Rifle Association, which took part in a meeting with Biden this afternoon, was displeased with the course of conversation, which the group paraphrased as being (surprise!) one big ol' attack on the Second Amendment. 
  • In the middle of today's meetings, prompted mostly by the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, another school shooting took place in Kern County, California, making the NRA's statement look particularly hollow.
  • As Adam Gopnik wrote after the Sandy Hook shooting, "And now it has happened again, bang, like clockwork, one might say." 
  • And yet the NRA isn't facing much backlash. In fact, it's gained 100,000 new members in the past 18 days.
  • Why doesn't gun-related tragedy dull the NRA's power? According to Bloomberg Businessweek, "the NRA wins because it’s popular with a broad swath of Americans, especially Republicans. It knows how to muscle politicians with perfectly legal, out-in-the-open, grassroots campaigns."
  • Complicating gun control even more in the wake of shootings is the fact that consensus on what causes these shocking gun sprees is hard to reach. Every situation can have a startlingly different context.

What We're Writing

  • Paul Waldman dishes out the good and bad news on American health care.
  • Robert Kuttner asks: Is Jack Lew the best we can do?

What We're Reading

  • Meet the Grandma Brigade, taking the Obama campaign's micro-targeting model to the grassroots-iest of levels. 
  •  Bloomberg Businessweek looks at business's role in Hillary Clinton's legacy at the State Department. 
  • What does Lincoln say about today's Congress?
  • "Every time a party loses a presidential election, there is a funeral procession that goes on for too long and that brings out all the Chicken Littles. The GOP's 2012 version has been a particularly intense session." So what's next
  • "The president," writes Noam Scheiber, "is getting the Treasury secretary who most closely reflects his thinking about the size, shape, and role of the state." 
  • A smart take on the role of gerrymandering in our screwed-up politics. 
  • Who could Obama pick to replace Reverend Louie Giglio for the inauguration benediction?

Poll of the Day

Hillary Clinton is on pace to wallop a Republican opponent should she run for president in 2016. Public Policy Polling surveyed the landscape for the next presidential election and found that voters favor Clinton 53-39 percent over Paul Ryan and 51-37 percent over two Florida politicians, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush. The only Republican who comes close to Clinton is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. In that hypothetical matchup Clinton leads by a slim 44-42 percent margin.

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