In case you were wondering how many shotguns Joe Biden has, the answer is two, a 20-gauge and a 12-gauge. That's what he told the U.S. Conference of Mayors today, though his audience was that larger group of Americans looking for reassurance that the Vice President is indeed a gun-totin' man. Or perhaps no one was looking for such reassurance, but he gave it to them anyway.
The administration's plan to contain gun violence now moves toward the legislative arena, where its prospects are uncertain at best. The emerging consensus has it that the component of the plan with the greatest chance of making it through Congress is the expansion of the FBI background-check system. Today, background checks are only required for purchases at licensed gun dealers (of which there are 130,000 in America; compare that to the nation's 144,000 gas stations). As Biden said, requiring you to "take another 20 minutes and go to Dick's Sporting Goods" if you want to buy a gun from your neighbor strikes most Americans as not particularly burdensome; polls in recent weeks have shown support for universal background checks as high as 92 percent. The NRA, on the other hand, finds universal background checks to be a terrifying diminution of liberty, the passage of which would inevitably lead to the day when we all find ourselves standing in endless lines in shapeless gray overcoats, waiting for a scrap of bread we can take home to our children and tell them of a time when Americans were free.
They can rely on Republicans to echo those fears, but there may be some Democrats causing problems for the administration as well. Pat Leahy, who as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee would be responsible for shepherding gun legislation, wanted everyone to know that he too knows how it feels to caress a stock and feel the kick of a shot well-fired. "I'm a gun owner. I know a lot about it," Leahy told reporters. "I was a champion marksman in college. I have a pistol range behind my house." (You might recall that Leahy's fellow Vermonter and liberal hero Howard Dean had an "A" rating from the NRA when he was governor.) You'll find plenty of other Democrats, particularly those from states where there are healthy numbers of hunters, making sure the folks back home know that they love guns too, even if in this case they'll consider supporting some modest limits on them. But if a little pandering to gun owners makes the medicine go down, President Obama will probably be fine with it.
So They Say
"I’m not sure what’s worse: conservatives ignoring women’s issues, or conservatives addressing them."
—Hoff Summers, an American Enterprise Institute fellow speaking at a panel on why conservatives haven't been able to win over women voters
Daily Meme: Ain't No Party Like a D.C. Party
- It's finally here, folks, the one time every four years when D.C. gets to peel off the Ann Taylor and J. Crew, stick on a fancy-schmancy gown or tux, and party hard!
- Oh, and yeah, Obama's getting sworn in and stuff.
- But as Michael Kazin says regarding Obama's inaugural address, "Don't take anything he says very seriously." They haven't been known to have the best predictive power for what presidents will do in office.
- That means we can devote our time to more consequential things, like the 1,000 gallons of Ben's Chili Bowl chili being prepared.
- Or more importantly, what designer will Michelle WEAR?
- Or, if you're Paul Grangaard, what shoes will Barack wear?
- The New Yorker imagined inauguration packages more exciting than the one the Obama White House is currently offering, like one that guarantees 10 seconds on the kiss cam and assurance that Obama will take the oath of office in a nacho hat.
- The conservative Washingon Times, hungry for the taste of Obama-caused mayhem, has found their controversy du jour in the menu. They've even found a surprising ally in their muckraking: the French. Yes, you're reading that right.
- Whatever happens, it's bound to be better than the nightmare party Jimmy Carter held inside of an unrenovated Union Station (this is pre-Tom Friedman dystopia Union Station, mind you, so its resemblance to The Exorcist set should not be doubted): “And all there was to eat were peanuts. It was like going to hell.”
- The parade is unlikely to feature what one 19th-century reporter described as "a car-load of pretty girls, thirty-four in all, each one of whom personated a State; militia-men, who walked like country paupers on a semi-diluted spree, and that climax of absurdities, citizens in carriages."
- Whether it will reach the heights of the 1953 inauguration, when President Eisenhower was lassoed by a cowboy, remains to be seen. We do have Beyoncé.
What We're Writing
- Gabriel Arana tackles the "enforcement first" farce and looks to real immigration reform.
- Adam Lioz and Blaire Bowie break down how much bigger big donors were than us normal folks in the last election (spoiler: like, way bigger).
What We're Reading
- Mac McClelland reports on veterans suffering from PTSD—and the spouses and children who are beginning to show symptoms too.
- Dan Amira illustrates Obama's favorite analogies so you don't have to.
- Nullification makes a comeback, with Rand Paul the new John C. Calhoun.
- Thomas Edsall delves deeply into the "daunting, but not necessarily insurmountable, obstacles" that liberalism faces going forward.
- You'll be shocked to learn that George Will has some questions for Chuck Hagel.
- The House GOP gets sensitivity training about "women and minorities"—in a room named for a slave plantation.
- Mild-mannered radio host Rush Limbaugh says, "You know how to stop abortion? Require that each one occur with a gun."
- The New York Times says the Republican "Vote No / Hope Yes" caucus speaks of pragmatism, but represents cowardice.
- Brad Plumer examines why the gun research mentioned in Obama's executive order might be more important—and more difficult—than it seems.
- A Joe Biden autobiography? Tell us more! It won't be from the mouth of Joe though—The Onion is penning its own take on Biden's past.
Poll of the Day
Public Policy Polling took the lay of the 2016 campaign land today in Florida and returned a predictable 31 percent favoring Marco Rubio among potential Republican candidates, as well as a more surprising fourth place for New Jersey governor Chris Christie at 7 percent (and 1 percent among the very conservative). Oh, and "at least on January 17, 2013," Hillary would have whupped them both.