In a Rose Garden statement in the aftermath of his failure to persuade the Senate to move on any of his gun control proposals, the president raged, Lear-like, against his opponents. It was a rather unpleasant mix–one part petulance and two parts anger.
In the course of his outburst, the president said this:
I’ve heard folks say that having the families of victims lobby for this legislation was somehow misplaced. “A prop,” somebody called them. “Emotional blackmail,” some outlet said. Are they serious? Do we really think that thousands of families whose lives have been shattered by gun violence don’t have a right to weigh in on this issue? Do we think their emotions, their loss is not relevant to this debate? So all in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington.
The unidentified “outlet” who used the phrase “emotional blackmail” was Charles Krauthammer, who on Fox News’s Special Report with Bret Baier said this about the background checks:
The question is: Would it have had any effect on Newtown? If you’re going to make all of these emotional appeals — you’re saying you’re betraying the families — you’ve got to show how if this had been law it would’ve stopped Newtown. It would not have. It’s irrelevant. I wouldn’t have objected, I might’ve gone the way of McCain or Toomey on this, but it’s a kind of emotional blackmail as a way of saying, “You have to do it for the children.” Not if there’s no logic in this. And that I think is what’s wrong with the demagoguery that we heard out of the president on this issue.
Krauthammer is once again right and the president is once again wrong. (At some point the president and his White House will discover that it’s not in their interest to get into a debate with Krauthammer. White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer can explain why.)
What Mr. Obama has been attempting to do throughout this gun control debate is to build his case based on a false premise, which is that the laws he’s proposing would have stopped the mass killing in Newtown. The families of the Newtown massacre are being used by the president in an effort to frame the issue this way: If you’re with Obama, you’re on the side of saving innocent children from mass killings–and if you’re against Obama, you have the blood of the children of Newtown on your hands. But it actually does matter if what Obama is proposing would have made any difference when it came to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. And the fact that it would not have is what makes Obama’s gambit so shameful and disturbing. (I say that as someone who is somewhat sympathetic to the expanded background checks.)
Mr. Obama’s effort at emotional blackmail has failed, and in bitterly lashing out at those who called him out on his demagoguery, he went some distance toward confirming that he is, in fact, a demagogue.
Three months into his second term, Mr. Obama is becoming an increasingly bitter and powerless figure. When a man who views himself as a world-historic figure and our Moral Superior commands things to happen and they don’t, it isn’t a pretty sight. See yesterday’s Rose Garden statement for more.