American Elephants


Second Term Agenda? Guns. Immigration. Climate Change. by The Elephant's Child

My bet is that President Obama’s advisers have told him not to worry about the economy, it is improving nicely, and will gradually recover without his doing anything. This leaves him free to take all sorts of actions that he finds more appealing. Easy. According to talking points memo, Obama’s big three goals for his second term will be:  Guns.  Immigration.  Climate Change. We’ll  hear more in the inaugural speech.

Not promising. The President’s proposals to combat gun violence turned out to be completely unserious, and just tired retreads from the left’s long-time wish list. Everybody is supposed to get all excited about “military-style assault weapons,” The key word there is “style”— an AR-15 looks much scarier than an ordinary 22, but it’s all looks. Obama used the phrase repeatedly.

The military uses rifles that have automatic capabilities, either semi automatic— you pull the trigger and it shoots one bullet, or fully automatic — you pull the trigger and as long as you pull it, it keeps firing.  Such weapons are already illegal, and have been since the 1930s. So when Obama talks about “military-style assault weapons” he’s talking about their looks. “Optics” is the more current term. And this kind of ban is not going to get through Congress anyway.

The Green Lobby is very anxious to get some laws passed because their whole program is turning to ash before their very eyes. Obama has signaled that climate change will be a top cause.  Too late. CO2 is not a cause of global warming. Even the IPCC is admitting it. The EPA has become a national disgrace with their grab for ever more power. They have increasingly been slapped down by the courts.

Perhaps the nadir was reached when they claimed that water can be regulated as a pollutant by the authority of the Clean Water Act (CWA). They have claimed the authority under the CWA and their authority over  “navigable waters” to control the tiniest trickle that flows into the runnel that flows into the creek and so on and so on until you get to the navigable river. Their regulatory overreach has done significant damage to the economy and become an unfathomable burden to business, and accomplished nothing at all.

We haven’t heard too much yet about Obama’s plans for immigration, but apparently it involves his passing — by executive order — the Dream Act that Congress refused to pass.

Stephanie Cutter, parseltongued deputy campaign manager for the Obama campaign, was out today saying that Team Obama will activate the campaign apparatus to take on the gun lobby. Activating thousands of volunteers to tackle the NRA,  and get the scary looking gun banned will accomplish nothing at all. And using the tired old phrase “if we can save the life of even one child” is really too much. It is quite notable that Mr. Obama managed to include not one word about movie violence, which is extreme, but movie industry people are big contributors.

President Obama is far more comfortable campaigning than in negotiating with members of the opposition over legislation about debt and deficits. Campaigning means large cheering audiences, and negotiating with people who do not agree with you is much more painful. Richard Epstein referred repeatedly to Obama’s unwillingness to put his ideas out there to be shot down by people who disagree. Epstein’s remarks have been an excellent guide to understanding this president.

This will be the first presidency that has devolved into a permanent campaign. Most presidents turn from campaigning to governing — but that takes an understanding that the American president is president of all the people, not just those who agree with you. It takes an understanding that being president of all the people means that you have to listen attentively to what the other side has to say, and grasp where they object and where they agree and why. It’s called negotiation. But Mr. Obama has already said he’s not interested in doing that.

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