It’s obviously been a traumatic week this past week. Among the news of the Boston bombing and the alleged Ricin terrorist in Mississippi, what got generally and understandably lost in the news is that President Obama’s initiative on gun control is now dead. Brian Perry also wrote a good piece along these lines.
Senator Roger Wicker was one of those Republicans who came out pretty early to end the proposed filibuster on the gun control measure in the US Senate, much to the chagrin of single issue NRA-types. On social media and even on YallPolitics facebook page, Wicker was labelled a 2nd Amendment sellout, though the NRA did not share that sentiment. Wicker was among a group of conservatives playing political longball in a highly partisan battle.
Let’s look at the facts.
1. A filibuster would have allowed Obama to demagogue the gun issue, which he is really good at doing, in light of the shootings in Newtown for months. With a budget still not approved and millions still out of work, a vote that ultimately wasn’t going anywhere was not worth the fight.
2. Wicker knew that the votes were not there in the Senate to do anything that would substantially infringe on 2nd Amendment rights.
3. Even if Wicker was wrong, there’s no way that anything substantially detrimental would get through the US House.
4. Finally, by ending the filibuster, the Senate was able to put vulnerable red state Democrats (like Mary Landrieu) on the record about the gun vote preceding an election year.
The gamble, and it was a small one, paid off. In fact, Harry Reid has now pulled further gun legislation off the agenda. Republicans now have some momentum to deal with immigration, which again in light of the Boston tragedy will now take on more complexity and importance.
Whether you agree with Roger Wicker or not, the Xs and Os of how he played this was good politics.