Sunday, March 13, 2011


President Obama delivered his State of the Union address mere weeks after the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, yet he didn't have the courage to utter a word about gun control in the speech. On the day of the speech he had lunch with several journalists, including Chris Matthews; in order to cover his lack of courage, he gave Matthews a "scoop" that, so far, has turned out to be a shameless lie. Matthews revealed the "scoop" during MSNBC's coverage of the speech:

MATTHEWS: There's going to be a special presidential address on gun control. It's not been scheduled yet, but there's going to be one in the near future -- uh, yes, you can take it from me.... So he's not overlooking it. I think they must have made a tactical decision that it would be the headline tonight, and they're looking for an economic jobs headline tonight.... There will be a gun speech coming up very soon. I was privileged to be at the briefing today, and I can't say where I heard it from, but I heard it from fairly good sources....

Two months after the shooting? Still no speech. Matthews was fed a lie.

What does Obama do instead? He writes an op-ed because he doesn't have the guts to talk about guns in a speech -- and he publishes in it the Arizona Star because he doesn't have the guts to publish it in a major national newspaper. (No, I'm not impressed that it's in a newspaper in Giffords's home state -- if he'd wanted it to be noticed, it would have been in The New York Times or The Washington Post or The Wall Street Journal or USA Today.) And he publishes the op-ed at a time when news of the op-ed is sure to be buried by news of the disaster in Japan.


And he doesn't even have the nerve to call for a ban on high-capacity magazines -- as Lawrence O'Donnell notes in the clip above, even Dick Cheney has been willing to suggest that perhaps those magazines should be banned again.

The most he has the courage to say is "I'm willing to bet that responsible, law-abiding gun owners ... don't think that using a gun and using common sense are incompatible ideas -- that we should check someone's criminal record before he can check out at a gun seller; that an unbalanced man shouldn't be able to buy a gun so easily; that there's room for us to have reasonable laws that uphold liberty, ensure citizen safety and are fully compatible with a robust Second Amendment." But he's not even willing to say, "Yes, I support closing the gun show loophole" or "Yes, I think we should support concrete steps to make it harder for mentally unstable people to acquire guns." It's as if he's saying, "Do I have your permission to bring these up, O mighty gun owners?"

The only recommendations the president will stick his neck out and make without hesitation are these:

• First, we should begin by enforcing laws that are already on the books. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is the filter that's supposed to stop the wrong people from getting their hands on a gun. Bipartisan legislation four years ago was supposed to strengthen this system, but it hasn't been properly implemented. It relies on data supplied by states -- but that data is often incomplete and inadequate. We must do better.

• Second, we should in fact reward the states that provide the best data -- and therefore do the most to protect our citizens.

• Third, we should make the system faster and nimbler. We should provide an instant, accurate, comprehensive and consistent system for background checks to sellers who want to do the right thing, and make sure that criminals can't escape it.

That's it. That's the most he'll say -- in a little-read newspaper, on a day when the nation's attention is focused elsewhere.

Gutless. Absolutely gutless.

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