Maureen Dowd, who often makes my teeth hurt as much as Wolfe Blitzer, gets it exactly right today. The gun purchase background check legislation should have passed the Senate and could have passed the Senate, if it had just a little push from the Oval Office.
How is it that the president won the argument on gun safety with the public and lost the vote in the Senate? It’s because he doesn’t know how to work the system . . . It’s unbelievable that with 90 percent of Americans on his side, he could get only 54 votes in the Senate. It was a glaring example of his weakness in using leverage to get what he wants. No one on Capitol Hill is scared of him . . .
President Obama thinks he can use emotion to bring pressure on Congress. But that’s not how adults with power respond to things. . . .
The president was oblivious to red-state Democrats facing tough elections. Bring the Alaskan Democrat Mark Begich to the White House residence, hand him a drink, and say, “How can we make this a bill you can vote for and defend?”
Sometimes you must leave the high road and fetch your brass knuckles. Obama should have called Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota over to the Oval Office and put on the squeeze: “Heidi, you’re brand new and you’re going to have a long career. You work with us, we’ll work with you. Public opinion is moving fast on this issue. The reason you get a six-year term is so you can have the guts to make tough votes. This is a totally defensible bill back home . . . ”
. . . Obama should have pressed his buddy [Sen Tom Coburn]: “Hey, Tom, just this once, why don’t you do more than just talk about making an agreement with the Democrats? You’re not running again. Do something big.”
This is where Obama fails. He needs to remind himself that he is “the most powerful man in the world” and then he needs to get his hands dirty.