I told you within 48 hours of the Uvalde shooting that somehow or other, this time just felt different. I couldn’t put my finger on any 1 thing, it just felt different. But with the benefit of hindsight, I figured out what it was.
It wasn’t so much the fact of yet another senseless school shooting, God, we’ve had more of those than I care to remember. But what was different this time was the response. Ever since the unspeakable tragedy of Columbine, when two mentally deranged teens wandered the halls at will, firing off rounds, the rules of engagement for police has changed.
When there’s an active school shooter, you don’t set up a cordon. You don’t wait for reinforcements. You sure as shit don’t set up a command center. The first cops on the scene rush the school, methodically search, and engage and neutralize the shooter. And all of the other cops that follow do the same thing until the threat is over. That is the national law enforcement catechism for active school shooter situations.
That is what was different this time. There were 19 cops standing in the hall outside the classroom for over an hour, waiting for orders while a deranged youth roamed freely, slaughtering 19 innocent children and 2 teachers. And the cops did nothing. Worse for Texas, it was apparent almost immediately, their timeline sucked. And the grieving parents knew it. If you’ve gotta have more guns than people on the street, and you can’t trust the cops to step in, what other choices do you have?
Which is why, other than a couple of soulless assholes like Ted Cruz, you haven’t heard many Thoughts and prayers commentary from the GOP, or the NRA either. And their shameless mantra of Only a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun bullshit either. There were 19 good guys with guns who used them for movie props for an hour. If you can’t trust the cops, then who do you trust?
Which is exactly why Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer gave Democratic Senators Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of CT, Joe Manchin of WV, and Kyrsten Sinema 10 days to talk with GOP Senators Susan Collins, Pat Toomey, Lindsey Graham, and John Cornyn to find a commonsense legislative solution to move the ball forward. And then something unprecedented happened.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell came out publicly in full support of the bipartisan Senate negotiations. As my patron saint, Jon of Stewart always says, If you smell bullshit, then call bullshit. And I call bullshit! This is nothing more than McConnell making himself look reasonable in front of the media. Because here’s the con. McConnel can let them negotiate the livelong day for 10 days, only to come out and call the resulting legislation flawed and rushed, and call for the GOP to filibuster the legislation. I can’t tell you how many times he’s pulled this shit before on bipartisan legislation.
But this time, McConnell may have bitten off more than he can chew. This time the reaction is purely visceral, because You can’t trust the cops to protect your children! And GOP Senators are feeling that heat as much as anybody else. And let’s not forget that McConnell burned his last favor bridge with his caucus when he personally begged them to vote to filibuster the non political J6 Commission in order to save Trump’s ass. He’s fresh out of favors with his caucus.
And this time still seems different. From what little is leaking out, the two sides appear to actually be engaging towards a viable solution that could pass the Senate with bipartisan support. Personally, I’m heartened to hear that Joe Manchin is working with Pat Toomey on improving the background check laws. A few years ago, the two got together and actually cosponsored a Senate bill to tighten up the background check laws and close some loopholes. McConnell filibustered it, and it never even got to the floor for debate.
But this time just might be different, and here’s why. McConnell is motivated by one thing, and one thing only, personal power. His Senate caucus understands that if you can’t get reelected, then you have no power! And they covet their own prestige and power just as much as he does.
If this bipartisan working group van bring a moderate bill to the floor, and McConnell tries to filibuster it, this time his own caucus might just tell him to shove it up his ass, vote for cloture to allow debate, and allow cloture for a final up or down vote. Because it’s just that important this time, and it seems like McConnell is the only one who doesn’t know it. Don’t touch that dial.