In the immediate aftermath of the November debacle, I pointed out several possible mechanisms for conservative revitalization. I argued that mainstream media truimphalism would fire up the Tea Party once again. I also argued that Obama’s undoing would be his political overreach, driven by his reelection euphoria. In writing these articles, I had assumed the time scale of around a year or more, certainly at least several months.
When I wrote those words, I did not realize how right my predictions would become, but how much my timing would be off. The overreach took weeks not months or years to manifest itself. Consider this recent Washington Post article that reports Obama is planning comprehensive gun control legislation.
If I am right, this is a major mistake in the making for him. I base this assessment partly on the strength of pro-gun forces (a byproduct of the shall-issue concealed carry movement – going strong for twenty years now), and the fact that his reelection gave him no mandate for controlling guns. Not only were gun owners lulled into false sense of security by the hoplophobes’ tepid response to the Aurora shooting (I believe this was deliberate - to make sure gun owners did not come out and vote), but Obama himself told gun owners that they have nothing to fear from him.
Also, by the time any legislation is introduced, it will have been over a month since the Newtown massacre and every day the shock of that horrible day grows fainter. An important roadblock to legislations is the Republican control of the House. It is not that I believe John Boehner has a titanium baseball bat for a spine, but that grassroots efforts by gun owners will make sure that GOP congresscritters do develop a backbone.
Finally, there are many anti-gun Democrat senators. Men like Joe Manchin and NRA A-rated Harry Reid. These people are the canary in the coalmine. If they don’t buck, Obama’s gun control efforts will fizzle because the GOP House will have nothing to vote down. After initially going wobbly, rifle-totin’ Joe Manchin has been loudly hostile to gun control efforts. And Harry Reid did not get his A rating from the NRA because gun control is popular in his home state of Nevada. It will be interesting to see what influences Reid more: Obama, Pelosi and the Democrat establishment, or his own voters. According to Conn Carroll of the Washington Examiner, there are 7 red state Democrat Senators up for reelection in 2014. This does not include Manchin and Reid.
Of course, if I am wrong and President Obama pulls a gun control rabbit out of the hat, then it will truly be bad news. Not only for advocates of freedom, but for the GOP. Any legislation that passes with even partial support from House Republicans (as it must) will cleave the conservative and establishmentarian factions of the GOP into two.
Right-wing vote splitting is a phenomenon Canadian conservatives are well acquainted with.