Plan B

01.17.13

Should Obama Endorse the NRA Proposal?

David Corn had a very good quote last night on Ed Schulz: I'm like Diogenes with his light, Corn said, searching for one Republican, just one, who'll acknowledge that maybe a couple of these Obama proposals are good ideas.

That will never happen, I guess. Or will it?

First of all, there are 15 House Republicans who represent districts Obama won, and there are 70 from states that Obama won. On the Senate side, there isnt much. Susan Collins, Mark Kirk...Rob Portman is from a blue state, but he doesn't seem so likely a candidate.

Here's a thought. I see from today's Times poll that a pretty dern large majority yet again supports the NRA idea about armed guards in schools:

The nationwide Times/CBS News poll suggests that the public agrees with the N.R.A., rather than with the president, on stepping up the presence of law enforcement at schools or other public places. About three-quarters of those surveyed said more police and armed security guards would help prevent mass shootings. Again, there was little difference of opinion regardless of party identification, gun ownership or region.

About a third, 35 percent, say more police or armed guards would do a lot to help prevent mass shootings in public places and another 39 percent think they would help somewhat. About a quarter say security personnel with weapons at schools, movie theaters and malls would do little or nothing to prevent any mass killings.

Well, I'm not wild about this idea, but this is the third poll I've seen--WaPo, Pew, and NYT--showing that a broad majority backs it. I am nothing if not a realist, as you all know well. So...

Suppose Obama said okay, I can read polls too, I see that the people seem to support this idea, so, NRA, let's talk. He can add whatever qualifiers: still skittish about guns in elementary schools; we have to figure out how to train and pay these people, and you, NRA, can't just say "take it out of foreign aid" and then wash your hands of it; and so forth. But maybe he should say, "I am open to a version of your idea; now, since the polls also show that majorities back my proposals, what version of my ideas are you open to?"

They will either say "nothing" and look like the assholes they are, in which case the White House reverts to Plan A and tries to mount a massive coalition to steamroll them, or they realize that it would be smart and politic of them to say, "Okay, Mr. President, let's play ball," and then you get the possibility of that most amazing of things, a compromise deal with the NRA. You've toilet-trained the NRA! That's something for a Democratic president to brag about.

And--to return to my original question, about Republicans--it would sure make not a few of them feel like they had a little room to maneuver. If they can say "but this includes the NRA's idea," seems to me a number of them could vote for a package.

But assuming that doesn't happen, I think the White House can win this, but only if they get House and Senate Democrats to be willing to stand up to the NRA as a group. It's the old thing. All in or none in. Most of these people have almost never shown actual political courage in their careers, but there's always a first time.

UPDATE: A couple tweeters remind me that one of Obama's proposals yesterday was, indeed, for 1,000 armed guards in schools. So he's already for what he said he was against! Except that the difference between his proposal and the NRA one, as discussed in this TPM piece, is that the NRA plan was for volunteers. Seems to me the point is, Obama's saying yes, more guns in schools. The NRA ought to be happy! But because it's Obama saying it, they'll find a way to be against it. So back to Plan A. Kick their butt.