President Obama has tasted defeat, and he doesn’t like it – but he’s just one of many on the left lashing out in anger and anguish after a series of gun-control measures went down to defeat Wednesday.
The president was not exactly gracious in defeat after experiencing what Politico called his “biggest loss.”
“The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill,” Obama proclaimed shortly after the Senate vote.
“They claimed that it would create some sort of Big Brother gun registry, even though it did the opposite,” Obama insisted.
The ACLU had joined the NRA in condemning the original version of a background check bill because of fears it could lead to a national registry.
Many still harbored those fears because of a record-keeping requirement in the version of the amendment that went down to defeat Wednesday by a vote of 54 to 46. The amendment needed 60 votes to pass. It would have expanded checks to cover all firearms sales at gun shows and online.
Democrats had pinned their hopes on the background check bill because they knew measures to ban so-called assault weapons and limit ammunition magazines had no chance of success, and, indeed, those amendments also failed Wednesday.
Some liberals were inconsolable, while others were seething with rage – before, during and after the votes.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., scoffed, “It shows us the cowardice of the Senate.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., mocked supporters of Second Amendment rights by saying they were “preventing imagined tyranny.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., scolded colleagues by telling senators to “show some guts,” adding, “I am really chagrined and concerned.”
It looked like Vice President Joe Biden wiped away tears after a father of a Newtown victim spoke in the Rose Garden following the defeat of the amendment.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg blamed “extremists.” He said, “More than 40 U.S. senators would rather turn their backs on the 90 percent of Americans who support comprehensive background checks than buck the increasingly extremist wing of the gun lobby.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo blamed the same culprit, proclaiming, “The Senate’s failure to pass a bipartisan measure that is supported by the vast majority of American people is a sad statement on the power of extremists to stand in the way of reason and common sense.”
Editorial writers also saw themselves on the side of reason and common sense.
The editors at Bloomberg titled their piece, “Rural America vs. Sensible Gun Control.”
The New York Times editorial, “The Senate Fails Americans,” basically accuses senators of not caring about the deaths of Americans because “the only thing that mattered to these lawmakers was a blind and unthinking fealty to the whims of the gun lobby.”
It reads, “For 45 senators, the carnage at Sandy Hook Elementary School is a forgotten tragedy. The toll of 270 Americans who are shot every day is not a problem requiring action. The easy access to guns on the Internet, and the inevitability of the next massacre, is not worth preventing.”
The Chicago Tribune not-so-subtly called its editorial, “A Vote for Violence.”
It suggests gun-rights supporters are mentally ill, stating, “A national conversation that began with the slaughter of 20 first-graders all but ended with a paranoid debate about whether requiring background checks on gun buyers would somehow lead to the government going door to door confiscating weapons.”
Editors at the Chicago Sun Times also found poor mental health lurking behind the vote, insisting the measure was “a centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s efforts to bring sanity to the nation’s gun laws” and that it was “a bad day for anybody tired of watching innocent children die.”
The Sun Times agreed with the president in finding opponents of the measure less than truthful, opining, “Senate opponents — almost all Republicans — defended their obstinacy by saying anti-crime efforts should focus on criminals. But that was just a cover. Truth is, they were kissing the ring of the absurdly powerful National Rifle Association.”
The Los Angeles Times editors wrote, “It’s a bitter disappointment for those who thought that the nation’s collective outrage might at last bring sense to Congress.”
Dana Milbank of the Washington Post proclaimed, “Courage was in short supply at the Capitol” because “too many cowered in the face of fierce opposition.”
And an article in Rolling Stone claimed, “The victims of Tuscon (sic) and Aurora and Newtown were betrayed today. Despite having the backing of 90 percent of Americans, the push to prevent felons, cartels and the mentally ill from easily buying guns in this country was foiled by the National Rifle Association and its allies in the Senate.”
As have many others, Obama has repeatedly referred to that 90 percent statistic. It comes from a broadly worded poll in the Washington Post that asks, “Would you support or oppose a law requiring background checks on people buying guns at gun shows?” But the question did not mention anything about a record-keeping requirement of those sales, one of the main points of contention in the defeated amendment.
The Post found 90 percent of registered voters would support the proposition as worded. That poll has been used by gun-rights opponents to suggest they had the overwhelming support of Americans for stricter gun-control measures, only to be thwarted by the NRA and the gun lobby.
Obama himself claimed, “The American people are trying to figure out how can something have 90 percent support and yet not happen.”
However, the most recent poll from the Associated Press, taken just days ago, found only 49 percent of Americans support stricter gun laws. That’s not far from the 46 percent of senators who voted for the background check amendment.
An article in Politico by Glenn Thrush and Reid J. Epstein suggests blame for the measure’s defeat might actually belong to Obama.
The president, they write, “broke his own informal ‘Obama Rule’ — of never leaning into an issue without a clear path to victory — first by pushing for a massive gun control package no one expected to pass, and then sticking through it even as he retrenched to a relatively modest bipartisan bill mandating national background checks on gun purchases.”
They also cite his “less-than-Johnsonian powers of personal persuasion” in trying to woo votes in the Senate.