Archive for category National Politics
At his Defining Ideas blog at the Hoover Institution, Richard A. Epstein has an important piece discussing the differences between classical liberals such as himself, and hard-core libertarians like Rand Paul. He does this in order to draw some important intellectual distinctions, but also to identify some areas where libertarians appears to be sidelining themselves on policy discussions:
The renewed attention to Paul exposes the critical tension between hard-line libertarians and classical liberals. The latter are comfortable with a larger government than hard-core libertarians because they take into account three issues that libertarians like Paul tend to downplay: (1) coordination problems; (2) uncertainty; (3) and matters of institutional design….
…Again, strong libertarians are on solid ground in defending (most) private contracts against government interference…. Yet the hard-line libertarian position badly misfires in assuming that any set of voluntary contracts can solve the far larger problem of social order, which, as Rothbard notes, in practice requires each and every citizen to relinquish the use force against all others. Voluntary cooperation cannot secure unanimous consent, because the one violent holdout could upset the peace and tranquility of all others.
The sad experience of history is that high transaction costs and nonstop opportunism wreck the widespread voluntary effort to create a grand social alliance to limit the use of force. Society needs a coercive mechanism strong enough to keep defectors in line, but fair enough to command the allegiance of individuals, who must share the costs of creating that larger and mutually beneficial social order. The social contract that Locke said brought individuals out of the state of nature was one such device. The want of individual consent was displaced by a consciously designed substantive program to protect both liberty and property in ways that left all members of society better off than they were in the state of nature. Only constrained coercion can overcome the holdout problems needed to implement any principle of nonaggression.
(I don’t think the ellipses have done any violence to the main thrust of Epstein’s argument, but of course, you’ll want to read the whole thing.)
This is neatly encapsulated by Walter Russell Mead’s statement that having the Interstate Highway System makes us freer. Epstein then goes on to provide concrete examples of the three classes of problems he cites above. On taxes, for instance:
The classical liberal thus agrees with the hard-line libertarian that progressive taxation, with its endless loopholes, is unsustainable in the long run. At the same time, the classical liberal finds it incomprehensible that anyone would want to condemn all taxes as government theft from a hapless citizenry. The hard-line libertarian’s blanket condemnation of taxes as theft means that he can add nothing to the discussion of which tax should be preferred and why. The classical liberal has a lot to say on that subject against both the hard-line libertarian and the modern progressive.
Hard-core libertarians will retort that classical liberalism as espoused by Epstein hasn’t done anything to arrest the historical drift in the wrong direction. I’d respond that the hard-core libertarians provide True North; indeed, it’s probably what Reagan had in mind when he famously said that libertarianism was the “heart and soul” of the Republican party. It anchors the discussion, and acts as a conscience in some ways to classical liberals by constantly asking, “How much freedom are you trading away, here?”
However, as Epstein shows, right now it’s engaged mostly in discussion with itself, and it runs the risk of isolating itself from broader policy discussion by being unable to talk in concepts that 90% of the country uses. This is what happens when hard-core libertarians insist that there’s “no difference” between the two major parties. Of course, there’s a difference, and libertarians know it. But for rhetorical effect, and to maximize their own leverage, they end up in effect arguing that there’s no practical difference between Progressive Leftism and Classical Liberalism, which is absurd. Some people end up buying this, but in the end, it’s self-limiting, because they’re just not using the same political categories as everyone else.
Listening to Ezekiel Emanuel try – on Obama’s behalf – to weasel out of the president’s infamous promise about our being able to keep our insurance and keep our doctors brought to mind this thumbnail sketch from Witness, Whittaker Chambers’s autobiography and exploration of the mentality of the Left:
…if that person fell from grace in the Communist Party, Harry Freeman changed his opinion about him instantly. That was not strange; that was a commonplace of Communist behavior. What was strange was that Harry seemed to change without any effort or embarrassment. There seemed to vanish from his mind any recollection that he had ever held any opinion other than the approved one. If you taxed him with his former views, he would show surprise, and that surprise would be authentic. He would then demonstrate to you, in a series of mental acrobatics so flexible that the shifts were all but untraceable, that he had never thought anything else. More adroitly and more completely than any other Communist I knew, Harry Freeman possessed the conviction that the party line is always right.
To some extent, all party loyalists are at risk of falling into the trap of defending something they had attacked before, or vice-versa. It is well that very few possess the ability to do so with full awareness of what they’re doing, and an utter lack of shame in doing it.
In 82 BCE, Sulla returned to Italy, and touched off three years of Civil War. By the end, he had killed tens of thousands of people, entered Rome by force, butchered thousands in civic buildings, and ordered the deaths of perhaps 5000 of the most prominent Romans. He not only broke the taboo against using legions against Rome itself, he killed pretty much any Roman who had even thought to oppose him, and many who hadn’t. As a result, he was able to leave office voluntarily, and wander the streets of Rome unprotected by any bodyguard. His reforms took Roman governing law back to the rules it had operated under prior to the rise of Tiberius Gracchus about 60 years earlier, while still trying to deal with the land and military issues that led to Gracchus’s rise in the first place.
Sulla used radical means to achieve arch-conservative ends. And yet, in the end, it was the radicalism that endured and the restoration that was forgotten.
To listen to the Denver Post, you’d think that the Colorado recalls were a similarly seminal moment in the destruction of our Republic. And some Democrats agree.
Whatever the merits of using unconventional, if perfectly Constitutional, means to achieve politics ends, the Democrats have no room to complain.
The Democrats are the party that invented changing the rules in the middle of the game, and it didn’t start with Harry Reid and the Magical Disappearing Rulebook, or the Florida Supreme Court’s creative ballot accounting.
This is the party that has, here in Colorado, weaponized vote fraud this past year. They’re the party who, in 2004, sued to allow anyone to vote a full ballot, non-provisional, in any precinct, without ID.
They’re the party that is suing its own citizens to overturn a 20-year-old Constitutional Amendment in order to raise their taxes without end. It is the party that filibustered its own redistricting bill because it preferred its odds in court to having to negotiate Congressional districts with the other party.
The Democrats are the party that passed out of the State House a bill to overturn the Electoral College, by joining an interstate compact without Congressional sanction. They cheerfully accepted out-of-state money for a popular referendum to apportion our Electoral votes proportionally, which would have reduced the value of winning the state from nine votes to one.
They sued to get an ineligible school board candidate declared “duly elected,” in order to have her disqualified, so that a favorable committee could appoint her successor.
It’s not as though Colorado Dems invented this game, they just learned it from their brethren elsewhere. They’re the party that popularized the recall election in Wisconsin, after occupying the state capitol failed to achieve the desired results. (I have half a mind to just blame this tantrum on recall-envy, given the different parties’ relative success in making the tactic stick.) There, too, they politicized a state Supreme Court election, in an effort to overturn the laws that caused the uproar in the first place. Most Wisconsinites weren’t aware that Supreme Court elections were partisan affairs, complete with allegations of physical assault.
In New Jersey, the late Senator Frank Lautenberg was only Senator at all because the party got a judge to agree that even though the law said they couldn’t replace Bob Toricelli on the ballot within 30 days of the election, it didn’t really mean it.
The Democrats will claim that this is just politics as usual, that the game is played by trying to change the rules on the fly. If so, it reduces the Republicans’ sin to one of not being sufficiently shameless.
In other words, of not being enough like Democrats.
Evelyn Gordon, at Commentary:
Answer: Never, as proven by Exhibit B–the administration’s silence in the face of an anti-Semitic slur against some even closer allies that same week. I’m referring, of course, to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s outrageous assertion that lawmakers are siding with Israel against Obama on Iran not “from any careful consideration of the facts,” but “from a growing tendency by many American lawmakers to do whatever the Israel lobby asks them to do in order to garner Jewish votes and campaign donations.”
Not only is this another classic example of the anti-Semitic “Jews control the world” trope, but many of the lawmakers whom Friedman accused of blindly obeying Jewish dictates rather than thinking for themselves are President Obama’s fellow Democrats, who have loyally shepherded his domestic agenda through Congress. Yet even so, the administration couldn’t be bothered to utter a word in their defense.
When an administration doesn’t see fit to condemn anti-Semitic slurs even against its closest allies–its negotiating partner abroad and congressional Democrats at home–you know anti-Semitism has attained the height of respectability. My only question is when all the American Jews who voted for this administration are going to wake up and start objecting.
This isn’t exactly the Coolidge Administration. Obama, Holder, and their underlings have no problem popping off on just about any subject they care about, so their silence here isn’t accidental – it’s carefully calculated to marginalize Israel, and if that means marginalizing Jews or readmitting anti-Semitism to polite company, it’s just eggs and omelets. Not like the President spent decades attending the sermons of an obviously anti-Semitic preacher, or anything.
It’s a commonplace to remember that William F. Buckley led the charge to rid conservatism and the Republican party of its anti-Semitic and paranoid elements, perceiving not only that they weren’t helping the cause, but that they were morally wrong. It’s long past time for some Democrat or visionary on the Left to do the same thing. The problem is, it’s hard to do this with a Progressive President in power, and when doing so would evidently offend so many other important client groups.
And unfortunately, we won’t hear much from Jewish Democrats about this. Too many of them have already decided they’re more Democrat than Jewish.
Harry Reid (D-Mendacity) continues the abdication of Senatorial privilege and responsibility to the executive with his mid-session revision of the Senate rules regarding nominations:
The partisan battles that have paralyzed Washington in recent years took a historic turn Thursday, as Senate Democrats eliminated filibusters for most presidential nominations, severely curtailing the political leverage of the Republican minority in the Senate and assuring an escalation of partisan warfare.
Saying that “enough is enough,” President Obama welcomed the end of what he called the abuse of the Senate’s advise and consent function, which he said had turned into “a reckless and relentless tool” to grind the gears of government to a halt.
While “neither party has been blameless for these tactics,” Obama said in a statement to reporters at the White House, “today’s pattern of obstruction . . . just isn’t normal; it’s not what our founders envisioned.” He cited filibusters against executive branch appointments and judicial nominees on grounds that he said were based simply on opposition to “the policies that the American people voted for in the last election.”
“This isn’t obstruction on substance, on qualifications,” he said. “It’s just to gum up the works.”
I can’t add much to what the redoubtable Dan Hannan said almost immediately afterwards during an interview on Fox News. He remarked that the president was lacking in one of the most important qualities of public service – the humility of the knowledge that you are passing through institutions that are bigger than you, and that changing the rules because you don’t get your own way is paving the way for what the Founders would have called arbitrary rule.
Of greater interest to me is why the President of the United States has anything at all to say about Senate rules is beyond me. I understand this is a president who feels the obligation to opine on just about anything, down to and including local criminal cases. (The singular exception to this garrulousness seems to have been the Iranian democracy movement in 2009.) But this is more than that. This is collaboration with Senate leadership to transfer more and more power to the executive branch. Over time, the Senate will find itself less and less able to exercise its role as part of a co-equal branch of government.
We already saw some of that during the 17% “shutdown” of the federal government, which affected so little of its functions that President Obama found it necessary to go out of his way to inconvenience citizens in order to remind them that there was actually a “shutdown” in progress.
There is no reason at all to believe that this is a temporary change. Since it can only be changed by the majority, it is hard to imagine circumstances under which the majority would cede additional power to the minority. Indeed, since the Senate minority’s leverage in any negotiation derives almost exclusively from its ability to filibuster, the incentive will be for the majority to continue to roll back the filibuster from more and more cases.
The one bright spot is that three Democrat senators, Manchin (WV), Levin (MI), and Pryor (AR) voted with the Republicans. Since the Senate has traditionally operated in a less party-line fashion than the House, there’s some hope than in a future negotiation, some majority members might be persuaded to restore nomination filibusters as the price for votes on some other issue. If the Republicans don’t take the Senate back in 2014, though, we’ll be looking at a Decade of Reid, and an increasing number of younger senators who will long not with nostalgia, but with contempt, at the more collegial days gone by.
Harry Reid has been consistently willing to shrink the Senate as a body in order to cede power to a friendly president. He may have responsibilities to a president of his party. Even in the 1950s, Allen Drury would write in Advise and Consent that the Senate Majority leader’s job was, in part, to pilot the President’s program through the Senate.
But Harry Reid is not Prime Minister. He’s Majority Leader of the US Senate, elected by the Senate Majority, with responsibilities to that body that extend beyond any transient partisan advantage he can gain by ceding them to the President.
Today is the 150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. There will be a great deal written about the speech itself, so I’m going to take a slightly different tack.
In 1982, Jacques Barzun was invited to give the Annual Fortenbaugh Memorial Lecture, on the anniversary of the Address, to Gettysburg College. His topic was “Lincoln’s Philosophical Vision,” and he broke it down into three parts: everyday life, ethics and morals, and man’s place in the universe. I can’t find the whole speech online, but there is much in it that is relevant to today’s politics.
The fanatical temper on either side springs from the philosophy opposite to perspectivism – the philosophy of absolutism: according to it, once an important purpose has been adopted, nothing must stop its immediate carrying out – and damn the consequences. Such thinkers are proud of their “principle” and they forge ahead thinking it is the only principle in the case.
Lincoln was a man of principle, too, but he understood how to handle principles – in the plural – in a world of actuality. Just one year before the war broke out, he plainly told his first great audience in the east that he thought slavery wrong and that there was “no middle ground between the right and the wrong.” But he went on to say: “Wrong as we think slavery is, we can yet afford to let it alone where it is, because that much is due to the necessity arising from its actual presence in the nation; but can we, while our votes will prevent it, allow it to spread into the National Territories, and to overrun us here in these Free States?” Lincoln wanted to stiffen resistance against the compromisers such as Senator Douglas, who was “groping” for “sophistical contrivances” that would in the end perpetuate slavery.
The lesson here is to beware of what absolutists call principles. Principles necessarily take the form of abstract words… Such words…lack contents you can name, concrete reference to the world of fact and behavior. That is the reason why the great English writer Dorothy Sayers said, “The first thing a principle does is to kill somebody.” Her conclusion follows from the absolutist temper…Of such stuff are made the idealist, the crusader, the revolutionist. He not only wants instant gratification, but he is also ever-ready to believe that his opponents are wrong on purpose, knowingly and wickedly; he is incapable of saying with Lincoln, “the southerners are just what we would be in their situation.”
And, as importantly:
One more word must be said about pragmatism by way of introducing the second part of Lincoln’s philosophy. The word pragma, a Greek root, means “the thing done,” the upshot. Pragmatism therefore means the doctrine that all human thought is fundamentally directed at doing, at some desired action, now or in future. The pragmatic test asks: What concrete difference would it make if this idea or that idea, this policy or that policy, were taken as the true one? It is the test that mankind has used for thousands of years in accumulating what we call the truths of experience.
Lincoln was above all a practical politician, who wanted to work within the existing political system to effect change, but wasn’t willing to let its limitations be its demise. He was also one who sought to understand where the other guy was coming from, even as he understood the profoundly moral nature of politics.
The deep irony of the current age is that President Obama, who pretends to Lincoln’s mantle, has based his entire political outlook on believing that his opponents are wrong on purpose, knowingly and wickedly, and being willing to say so, loudly and longly.
At the same time, there’s a small but loud group of Republicans who reject Lincoln’s pragmatism in the name of principle, without realizing that life often consists of sorting out conflicting principles.
The anniversary of that short, profound, complex speech couldn’t come at a better time.
If President Obama really is pivoting back to the economy, his political organization doesn’t seem to have gotten the message.
On Monday, at a speech for Organizing for Action, the President reinforced a White House statement that he’d begin a speaking tour, with the goal of refocusing national attention on the economy. At the time, I noticed that even as he and the White House were promoting the tour, Obama was derogating the effectiveness of his speeches:
Then, today, I got an email from OFA, asking me to set aside a day in August for one of their “Actions.” Here’s the calendar:
It’s the president’s usual list of political priorities: immigration “reform,” gun control, global warmism, and a sudden defensiveness about Obamacare, which appears to be about as settled as the “climate science.”
Not much about the economy there, is there?
For the last few weeks, I’ve been working my way through Henry Clay: The Essential American. Such political biographies are inevitably histories of the times, and Clay’s times basically bridged the America of the early Constitution and the America just before the Civil War.
I may or may not have time for a longer, more thorough post on Clay, but I wanted to throw out a few observations, as Clay spends a few years at Ashland, recovering physically and financially in preparation for one last stint in Washington, after his defeat as the Whig nominee in 1844.
Clay was, by any account, a remarkable and remarkably intense politician. He was quickly elected Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives, and then, on his first day in the US House, elected Speaker of the House there. Clay would revolutionize that role, taking the Speakership from a mostly administrative role to a center of political power. When he moved to the Senate, he would wield similar power there as a floor leader, even without the formal role of Majority Leader that we have today.
Because of his long Congressional career, we know Clay today as the Great Compromiser, remembering his roles in the Missouri Compromise of 1820, and the Compromise of 1850, both of which helped stave off disunion over slavery. Those are merely the largest, best-known of his compromises. He led successful compromises over the tariff (despite being a westerner, he favored a high protective tariff), and over a renewed Bank of the United States and internal improvements, the last two thwarted by presidents rather than Congress. These three aspects of his program comprised what he referred to as the American System.
For being almost 200 years old, the politics of the 1830s and 1840s is strikingly modern. Much of this is the result of Andrew Jackson’s populist revolution in American politics, but Clay’s and the Whigs’ response to it also resonates with today’s reader. For instance, in vetoing the recharter of the Bank of the United States, Jackson’s message essentially dodged constitutional questions, and boiled down to the fact that he didn’t much like banks. Clay thought that Jackson’s lack of intellectual coherence in his veto message would cost him politically in the Mid-Atlantic states, where the Bank was popular. He underestimated the populist appeal of Jackson’s message. It wouldn’t be the last time Clay misread the politics vs. the policy of an issue.
Clay also had to deal with the changing nature of presidential campaigning. While personally outgoing and optimistic, and a fine public speaker, he never really enjoyed or thought seemly the public appearances and speeches that marked presidential elections in the 1840s. And in the 1844 campaign, he never could get his fellow Whigs to understand the importance of a centralized party organization. Counting on the popularity of their program and ideas to carry the day, they narrowly lost to James K. Polk, whose Democrats better understood the politics of faction.
The Whigs also might well have won, had they been able to keep the focus on the economy. They had won handily in 1840 on that basis, although Harrison’s death and Tyler’s allegiance to Democrat, rather than Whig, ideas, cost them mightily as the public perceived them as unready to govern. But the party in power often controls the public agenda, and it was to Tyler’s benefit – until he dropped out – to bring Texas, and the inevitable conflict over slavery – to the forefront. It was the 1844 equivalent of running on a supposed “War on Women,” in order to avoid talking about a wretched economic record.
It was also in the 1830s that we start to see the philosophical differences that would define American politics from then on. The Democrats favored a strong executive – first pioneered by Andrew Jackson – while the Whigs really coalesced initially around resistance to what they saw as the usurpation of legislative priority. But it was the Whigs who favored a more nationalist policy, Clay’s American System – a central bank, protective tariffs, and federally-funded internal improvements. So it was possible for Tyler to resist Jackson’s executive power grab by joining the Whigs, and still oppose the Whig federal program.
Clay never would be president, despite being a perennial nominee or mentionee for decades. It’s entirely possible that this was for the best. His time at the State Department under John Quincy Adams was miserable. Clay always supported legislative supremacy, believing that the Constitution put Congress in Article I for a reason, and there’s no reason to doubt his sincerity on this point, or to believe that it was one of convenience. Had he been elected President, he would likely have found crafting legislative compromise more difficult from the other end of Pennsylvania Ave., since he wouldn’t have been in a position to control the process as thoroughly as he did from the floor or the Speaker’s chair. The Presidency has not been kind to those with a legislative, rather than an executive temperament.
During the IRS hearings, a recurring Democrat theme was that the IRS’s interpretation of 501(c)4 status, combined with the Citizens United ruling opened the door to political corruption by allowing – gasp! – anonymous political speech. The argument, of course, is that you need to discount the speech based on the speaker.
This claim ignores the fact that there’s nothing inherently corrupt about anonymous speech, or in the Supreme Court’s interpretation, the anonymous funding of speech. As many have pointed out, anonymous speech on substantive, even existential, political issues goes back to the founding days of the Republic. The most famous example is the Federalist Papers, but even if you accept the notion that people didn’t know who Publius was the way that people today don’t know who Richard Bachman is, there are other contemporaneous examples. Pauline Maier, in her fine survey of the Constitution’s ratification, Ratification, cites numerous anonymous anti-federalist writers, including a few that historians still haven’t been able to identify.
Unfortunately, for Democrats, a lack of anonymity is a feature, not a bug. Via Instapundit, Kim Strassel’s column in today’s Wall Street Journal explains why:
In early August 2008, the New York Times trumpeted the creation of a left-wing group (a 501(c)4) called Accountable America. Founded by Obama supporter and liberal activist Tom Mattzie, the group—as the story explained—would start by sending “warning” letters to 10,000 GOP donors, “hoping to create a chilling effect that will dry up contributions.” The letters would alert “right-wing groups to a variety of potential dangers, including legal trouble, public exposure and watchdog groups digging through their lives.” As Mr. Mattzie told Mother Jones: “We’re going to put them at risk.” (emphasis added)
In an perfect example of blaming the victim, some Democrats would like to change the story from one of Democratic corruption of the IRS to the imaginary corruption of the political process by the Tea Party groups who found themselves on the wrong end of a partisan IRS proctological examination.
The Democrats argued that the sole purpose of claiming 501(c)4 status rather than forming a 527 was to keep donor lists secret. There’s absolutely no evidence that this is true, but given Mattzie’s manifest intent to make Republican and conservative donors suffer personally for their political speech, could you blame conservative groups if it were?
As the US Senate begins today’s debate on gun control, Coloradoans can be forgiven for having a feeling of deja vu. That’s because the debate in Congress is intended to mimic the one in Colorado, and because it’s about politics, not about governance.
The one piece of the president’s broad gun control agenda that has survived public scrutiny is background checks on sales. This is a broadly popular idea, and even gun owners support it by large margins in poll after poll. But Dave Kopel of the Independence Institute has shown that in Congress, as in Colorado, while the bill will be sold as checks on sales, it actually does much, much more:
While the woman is out of town on a business trip for two weeks, she gives the gun to her husband or her sister. If the woman lives on a farm, she allows all her relatives to take the rifle into the fields for pest and predator control — and sometimes, when friends are visiting, she takes them to a safe place on the farm where they spend an hour or two target shooting, passing herover gun back and forth. At other times, she and her friends go target shooting in open spaces of land owned by the National Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management.
Or perhaps the woman is in a same-sex civil union, and she allows her partner to take her gun to a target range one afternoon. Another time, she allows her cousin to borrow the gun for an afternoon of target shooting. If the woman is in the Army Reserve and she is called up for an overseas deployment, she gives the gun to her sister for temporary safekeeping.
One time, she learns that her neighbor is being threatened by an abusive ex-boyfriend, and she lets this woman borrow a gun for several days until she can buy her own gun. And if the woman becomes a firearms-safety instructor, she regularly teaches classes at office parks, in school buildings at nights and on weekends, at gun stores, and so on. Following the standard curriculum of gun-safety classes (such as NRA safety courses), the woman will bring some unloaded guns to the classroom, and under her supervision, students will learn the first steps in how to handle the guns, including how to load and unload them (using dummy ammunition). During the class, the firearms will be “transferred” dozens of times, since students must practice how to hand a gun to someone else safely. As a Boy Scout den mother or 4-H leader, the woman may also transfer her gun to young people dozens of times while instructing them in gun safety.
These are not far-out scenarios. Kopel notes that “transfers” are defined very specifically in the bill, with specific exceptions. And lest “transfer” be read narrowly to exclude loans, where someone retains possession, time limits on such transfers are laid out. In order to escape such notice, guns could be “gifted” to family members, but presumably those gifts would be considered taxable events.
The bill does include some exceptions, designed to provide plausible deniability to senators who want to claim they’ve made reasonable allowances. Those exceptions are subject to such severe restraints so as to make them all but meaningless. This was largely the same legislative and debate strategy used here in Colorado, and for fun, count the number of times reference is made on the floor of the Senate to what happened here.
All of these scenarios will fly under the radar. The plan is for the press to continue to repeat the “40% of sales” myth and to deflect attention from the real burdens of the proposed law. Western Democrats will be given enough cover to present their votes as reasonable to the folks back home, and Republicans opposing them will have the Hobson’s Choice of either caving (and dispiriting and disillusioning their supporters) or appearing obstructionist and unreasonable.
It’s the same strategy that the Democrats used with the Violence Against Women Act: take a non-controversial piece of legislation, load it up with partisan baggage, and dare the other side to vote against it. It was a key element in the 2012 campaign theme of a “War on Women,” and it didn’t really have anything to do with governing. Obama and the Democrats now hope to repeat the same trick, and set up the 2014 Congressional campaigns as one of the Republicans against the Suburbs, newly-competitive territory which the Dems see as the key to long-term victory.
The bills, largely written by Mayor Bloomberg of New York, suffer from the same lack of public process, examination, amendment, and debate as Obamacare and the ill-thought-out, and supposedly much simpler, magazine ban rushed through the New York State legislature in the wake of Newtown. That’s by design; while the mayor and the president may be true believers in disarming citizens, President Obama is a greater believer in winning elections.
To thwart this strategy, the Republicans will have to do more than filibuster. Their amendments – and thus the floor debate – will have to be focused on the question of “transfers” and the absurd outcomes that this bill creates. They’ll never have a better time to make their case publicly.