In what promises to be the fight of the century so far, the National Rifle Association Wednesday said it plans to spare nothing toward a major campaign to derail the plans announced by the White House and supported by most Congressional Democrats to better control gun violence that it says will diminish in part or violate in whole the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that guarantees the right to bear arms.
Fight of the century
With that promise to stand and fight President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden who today issued a set of legislative recommendations for Congress to act on with respect to preventing more gun violence of the kind that took place in a pre-Christmas massacre in an elementary school in Connecticut that was accompanied by 23 Executive Orders that don't need Congressional approval, and a nation whose mood and temperament on gun violence has shifted dramatically away from laissez faire gun ownership regulations to stricter measures, the NRA will give Republicans, who have been loyal long-time defenders of little to no requirements to own powerful firearms and the volume of destructive ammunition they use, more fits than famed quarterback Joe Theisman's prostate gave him before he discovered Beta-sitosterol.
As has become routine whenever President Obama proposes any plan, policy or program, Republicans show little interest in listening or return to their political redoubt to delay or destroy what they see coming their way.
And so it was today, when a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner's office responded to President Obama's call for new gun control legislation, saying, "House committees of jurisdiction will review these recommendations," a spokesman for the Speaker's office said, adding, "And if the Senate passes a bill, we will also take a look at that."
President Obama set the stage for the coming battle between the NRA and Congressional Republicans, saying, “We won’t be able to stop every violent act, but if there is even one thing that we can do to prevent any of these events, we have a deep obligation, all of us, to try." The president added, "I will put everything I've got into this ..."
Addressing the nation today, the president understands there will be pundits and politicians and special interest lobbyists publicly warning of a tyrannical, all-out assault on liberty ... "not because that’s true, but because they want to gin up fear or higher ratings or revenue for themselves ... And behind the scenes, they’ll do everything they can to block any common-sense reform and make sure nothing changes whatsoever."
The only way to effect change, he said, is if "their audience, their constituents, their membership says this time must be different -- that this time, we must do something to protect our communities and our kids." He added, "But I tell you, the only way we can change is if the American people demand it ... We have to examine ourselves and our hearts, and ask ourselves what is important."
Pro-Obama forces that say standing with Democrats will reduce gun violence," called attention to the NRA and their army of lobbyists, who they said are working to tear any proposal to shreds. "If we don’t stand up to the NRA immediately, they will destroy our chance to stop gun brutality," one plea for contributions said.
Dems ready for fight of the century
In less than 7 hours after the president's made his appeal to the nation, 80,000 citizens called on Congressional Republicans to take action against gun violence.
The backdrop for this campaign can be found in the House races won and lost last November. House Democrats defeated 16 Republican incumbents—–more than in 2008—and have rebuilt the Democratic caucus back to 200 members strong again. According to the Cook Political Report, a well-respected publication on politics and candidates, the election offered a "Better than expected night for House Dems."
It's been announced that Republicans will gather later this week in Williamsburg, Virginia for a GOP retreat. This retreat comes after weeks of record low poll numbers for Congressional Republicans, who remain in control despite a million fewer votes for their candidates versus Democratic candidates in last year's General Election. Democrats crow that the low poll numbers represent an "unparalleled dysfunction and unbelievable extremism that have rankled the Republican ranks."
According to The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, "Tea Party House Republicans have had a rough month—from the fiscal cliff to Hurricane Sandy, an attempted coup to an upcoming debt default—they’ve been unable to explain their extremism and dysfunction to the American people,” Jesse Ferguson of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said. Freshmen House Republicans have extreme records and out-of-touch ideas that will mix perfectly with the House Republican Tea Party Caucus, he added, noting the GOP's frosh "want to restrict a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, want to protect tax breaks for millionaires, Big Oil and corporations shipping jobs overseas, and they want to gamble seniors’ retirement investments on Wall Street."
And now, they will be inevitably be drawn into the corner of the NRA, which while it has gained an impressive number of new members since the president said he'll put the full force of his office behind common sense gun ownership reforms is losing favor with the American public, which sees no reason why simple solutions previously opposed shouldn't be adopted now.
Polls show GOP troubles
A new Gallup poll released Wednesday shows Democrats have taken the lead in Party Identification at the start 2013. The poll showed 47 percent of Americans identified as Democrats, while 42 percent identified as Republicans. "The new Democratic advantage is mostly due to an increased proportion of Democratic-leaning independents and a decreased proportion of Republican-leaning independents," Gallup wrote.
Another poll from Public Policy Polling yesterday showed that the Tea Party Republicans have driven approval of their Congress to historic lows of 9 percent. The poll found this Tea Party Republican Congress was less popular than root canals, head lice, colonoscopies, traffic jams, cockroaches and even Donald Trump.
A recent Washington Post/ABC poll showed the damage to House Republicans after they nearly sent America’s economy over the fiscal cliff. Only 30 percent of registered voters approve of House Speaker Boehner in the fiscal cliff negotiations, while 56 percent disapprove.
It only takes 17
It's expected that when the two remaining House seats are filled for the 113th Congress, Republicans will have 234 Members compared to 201 for Democrats. It takes 218 votes to pass the House, so it will only take 17 GOP defectors to join Democrats to pass bills. This defection scenario was witnessed Tuesday when the House passed a bill that provided about $51 billion to people, especially in New York and New Jersey, who were impacted by Hurricane Sandy. The vote was 241-180, with 179 Republicans and one Democrat opposing the measure.
Among the 179 Republicans who voted "no" were several legislators who were elected in 2010 in the Tea Party wave and who promised to rein in federal spending.
If Democrats who won the presidential race last year and are pulling ahead of Republicans hope to wrest control of the people's chamber from Speaker Boehner and his rebellious Tea Party wing, a battle of the century against the NRA on gun violence control may be just what the prescription for more wins in 2014, when Republicans will have shown over a two-year period that they are out of step and out of touch with the bulk of the American electorate who spoke in no uncertain terms about who they want their president to be and the kind of policies and programs they want going forward.
Republicans will have to weigh whether their fight to oppose all things Barack Obama, which didn't work out for them last year, is the right course to take in light of the shifts in what the electorate will tolerate going forward, which appears to be very different than what it tolerated in the past.
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