Friday, April 5, 2013

False Equivalence Alert: Obama on Gun Control

Yesterday, Obama went to Aurora, Colorado, to speak about gun control, an attempt to use the bully pulpit to goad Congress into action.  Unfortunately, he had done no such thing after the shooting in Aurora last summer.  He also danced around the issue during the town hall debate last fall, in which Obama spoke about education and Romney complained about single mothers while neither answered the question that had been asked.  Obama's conversion into a gun control advocate (or perhaps reversion, he may have devolved and then evolved as he did with marriage equality) post-Newtown is welcome.  However, watching him speak in Colorado reminded me of one of my biggest gripes with his rhetorical and governing style.

I watched a clip of his speech during All in with Chris Hayes last night, and as soon as I started to hear the glimmer of vague, feel-good "post-partisan" language, all I could think was "Wait for it, Wait for it.  He's going to say that both sides are equally to blame."  And, lo and behold, he did.

“Part of the reason it’s so hard to get this done is because both sides of the debate sometimes don’t listen to each other.   The people who take absolute positions on these issues on both sides sometimes aren’t willing to concede even an inch of ground.”

I am very intrigued to know of whom he is thinking when he refers to absolutists on the side of gun safety.  No elected official--or even activist group--is broaching even the idea of the very strict gun policies that the United Kingdom has, where even the police don't have guns.  The left-bound of the debate is the assault weapons ban and the magazine restriction, both of which garner majority support from voters.  Universal background checks garner even higher support.  Obama claims to support all three proposals. 

Gun control advocates are not the ones with the anti-government, doomsday fantasies or twisted machismo.  Gun control advocates are not the ones brandishing weapons outside of state capitols with more faith in intimidation than democratic deliberation.  Gun control advocates are not the ones promising to filibuster of any gun control package.  Gun control advocates, ignored entirely by the president and the Congress (save for a few lone representatives), will likely accept whatever they can get, and I don't see liberal Democrats threatening to filibuster a bill that is too watered down.  So, please, Mr. President, save me your hollow centrist rhetoric.

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