Trump isn’t about to full on bite the hand that feeds him when that hand has been such a powerful political player and delivered both him and the GOP electoral wins. All he’s really doing is nibbling on it a bit. Maybe. We are a long, and I mean LONG way from a bill reaching his desk and him signing it. Trump might be talking tough right now. However right now saying he will “handle” the NRA if they don’t like him pushing a bit of gun control legislation is just talk on his part.
Let’s start with the fact we’ve seen this movie before and know how it ended. In the aftermath of the mass murder of students & staff in Parkland at MSD high school Trump made a show about “taking on the NRA” and even sat there with survivors and families of victims and the WH and made such promises. Literally days later after NRA honchos had a little chat with him Trump of course folded like a cheap lawn chair. Is anyone reading this surprised it went down that way?
So the current noises Trump is making is something I’ll take with a big grain of salt. I’m talking big like one of those 2’ X2’ salt blocks the owner of the farm I used to live on set out for the racehorses to lick. Hell, a whole truckload of them. I realize things are different now because the NRA is engaged in some serious internecine warfare. Since they don’t allow people to carry their GUNS around inside their HQ bldg. in Fairfax the poor babies have to result to knives to stab each other in the back but it’s clear the NRA has problems that include dwindling financial resources they can use to bribe politicians. AG Barr might be providing cover by stonewalling efforts the DOJ was making to expose Russian money flowing to the GOP via the NRA, but NY State where the NRA is officially based has jurisdiction to crawl up their asses with an army of accountants and prosecutors — and as we are seeing the will to do so. I’m sure Russia will figure out a way for someone besides Torshin to funnel some money to them but it will be more of a garden hose than the fire hose of 2016.
I’d be willing to bet all I have (admittedly not much) that discussions have been taking place between Trump & Jar Jar and others about just how strong the NRA is right now and will be next year. And they are testing the waters to see if maybe, just maybe they can relent on background checks (albeit a watered down version via McConnell) and keep NRA support. That way they will try to trumpet having “done something” — I heard a clip today of Trump basically bragging he could do what not other President has been able to accomplish on gun control. Of course that conveniently ignores what the NRA thinks of as the dark days of 1938, or the assault weapons ban Clinton signed. Anyway the point is that the WH/Trump are trying to calculate a way to thread the needle and pass something for show. Something they can get the NRA leadership to tolerate (as long as McConnell waters it down) but can also sell to a general public that overwhelmingly wants strong universal background checks — but won’t pay enough attention to the details of what gets passed.
After all, the news has been coming so fast and furious in recent times AND with a Presidential campaign about to seriously ramp up come fall AND more revelations sure to come about Trump scandals I hate to say it but gun control can easily get overshadowed. In fact Trump & the GOP might be counting on exactly that.
I’ll guarantee you McConnell is using the August recess to plan a way to put the screws to our side when Congress comes back. He’s surely been talking to the NRA about what is the absolute minimum they will tolerate — proposing both to them and the WH ways to water down any bill on background checks. He’s on the phone to GOP Senators on how to market a watered down proposal next year when enough of them are vulnerable that they could lose their majority in the Senate. The needle the GOP from Trump on down is trying to thread is to create a bill that will only pass in the Senate if it’s largely toothless and/or has holes big enough to drive a tank through BUT they can bullshit the public at-large into buying.
They are all trying to figure out something where the details are nuanced enough to sound good on the surface to the average voter but won’t really do anything — and when Democrats predictably object and refuse to go along they will in one voice with carefully crafted (and we all know the GOP are masters at this) talking points the GOP will shout from the rooftops that DEMOCRATS ARE BLOCKING GUN CONTROL! That might seem nuts but the GOP has gotten away with this kind of stuff before so we’d better be ready to deal with what I’m convinced is coming.
For once WE, and by we I mean our leaders in Congress and the pundit world need to get out ahead of the curve.
I’m too pissed off right now to think more rationally, and besides there are smarter people than me with larger voices on this and other forums who can perhaps come up with something more specific and hard hitting r.e. taking the fight to the GOP instead of letting them define the debate come September.
But keep in mind what I started with. I believe that while he’s been (only) saying a bit of the right things on background checks or maybe even “red flag” laws (while nixing any talk of a new assault weapons ban btw) he’s not really biting the NRA hand that feeds him and the GOP. At most he’s nibbling on it and he might once again stop doing even that. Because in the end to paraphrase an Eric Hoffer quote I believe even if Trump and the GOP take a small, tiny bite out its hand they are still afraid to stop licking the NRA’s/gun manufacturer’s boots.