Some of us were willing—unlike Michael Bloomberg—to give the presidential candidates a wide berth on Friday, when they eschewed politics to speak soothing words in the aftermath of Aurora. They also eschewed any reference to a root cause of the massacre: the ease with which deranged Americans can acquire a mass-murdering arsenal.
Now it’s time. But the closest to a call for gun control we’ve heard from either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama—who have both supported at least some new regulations in the past—came in the mealymouthed form of Jay Carney, the president’s press secretary, who had this to say: "The president's view is that we can take steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them under existing law.” Gun politics, as we’re freshly reminded, is one of the greatest sicknesses of our system. Extremist gun groups, with an extremist idea endorsed by an extremist judiciary—that the Second Amendment protection for citizen militias means that semi-automatics must be available to nearly every individual—quite literally holds our democracy hostage. The NRA exercises political blackmail over any legislator or president who dares to buck it in the smallest way. NRA “scorecards” are flourished like holy relics during campaigns—and if you’re a Republican running without a perfect “A” from these scoundrels, you have a lot of explaining to do in your primaries. Even Grover Norquist must be green with envy.
President Obama has cowered from the issue, and he has plenty of company from Democrats who were convinced the party paid a political price for supporting gun control in 1994 and 2000 and—with a few noble exceptions—have pretty thoroughly given up on the issue ever since. (Even conservative commentator Bill Kristol thinks the Dems are being “as foolish as cowardly” by not pushing for more gun control. Sheesh!) Is it too much, even, to end the gun-show loophole? Yes, it is. Too radical to ban high-capacity gun magazines like those used at Virginia Tech, in Tucson, and in Aurora? Yep. And now, as we see, it is even too much, if you’re running for president, to say anything about how ludicrous this situation is. What happened in Aurora was a horrible shame. What happens almost daily in Chicago—the president’s home turf—is an ongoing nightmare. And what has happened to American politics is a bloody disgrace.
So They Say
"Chris Christie is obviously a very smart Huey Long. And Jeb Bush—they’d written this one off, basically. I wish they’d gone the whole hog—Sarah Palin with Joe the Plumber as V.P. But they drew back from that."
—Novelist Martin Amis, on the other Republicans who might have been president in 2012
Daily Meme: Spending Spree
- The Obama campaign is on a spending tear, and The Wall Street Journal reports that Dems are getting worried about its lack of frugality, and whether the coffers will run dry come September.
- The RNC does have way more money on hand than the DNC.
- But part of that spending gap is built into our electoral system. A bunch of Mitt's money is off-limits until he's officially nominated.
- And once you factor in pro-Romney super PAC spending, the two campaigns have been dropping money in near-equal force.
- The Obama campaign doesn't seem to be too worried about spending big now. As one bundler says, "They must feel comfortable that they can raise more."
- Obama’s time-tested strategy is to frame Romney before he gets his own story out. If that's so, waiting until September to spend big would seem pretty unwise.
- And Democratic donors seem to be finally warming up to super PACs, despite their deep moral misgivings.
- That means they won't have to stop their full-force Bain attack any time soon.
- In the end, there might not be many undecided voters to spend money on in the fall anyway.
What We're Writing
- Abby Rapoport makes the case for a new Voting Rights Act.
- Paul Waldman lauds Romney for making the liberal argument for taxation—accidentally, of course.
What We're Reading
- Thomas Edsall takes Obama to task for “practicing the politics of anything goes.”
- Peter Beinart writes that Romney’s overseas trip is an extended exercise in Cold War nostalgia.
- John Heilemann says the Obama campaign has been acting like "a bunch of sadistic dentists."
- Obama is pulling out some secret weapons this week: Beyonce and the Wire cast.
- Jill Lepore grades the two candidates' ability to play the board game that is presidential politics.
- Molly Redden finds the fictional antecedents to our super PAC superstars.
- Could we be headed for a rerun of Florida 2000—but in multiple states this time?
Poll of the Day
We have another big batch of data today on how the economy is swaying likely voters—but not a bit more clarity on who’s winning. A Hill poll shows voters are blaming Obama the most for our economic woes—but they’re also blaming Congress. And 53 percent of“centrists” say that Obama has done right by the economy, against 38 percent who say he’s botched it. The happy news for Romney: USA Today/Gallup finds that, even after the Bain attacks, the Republican has a big edge over Obama on managing the economy.