The Republican response to the very moderate gun control measures Obama announced today, which basically come down to better enforcing existing laws and expanding mental health care, was as predictable as it was shameless. Speaker Paul Ryan, an Ayn Rand addict who has spent most of his years in Congress putting together imaginary budgets and proposing policies that would only have worked in the alternative reality in which Rand’s heroes operated, issued a statement that Obama is trying to create a distraction from his failed record, that Obama’s word doesn’t trump the Second Amendment, and that the law already says what Obama announced today. Apparently Ryan was too hurried to respond to realize that if Obama is only enforcing existing laws he’s not trying to trump the Second Amendment, something that was even emphasized by Obama in his speech, but Ryan has never shied away from contradicting himself and he clearly hasn’t changed his ways since becoming Speaker. It is sad that Boehner’s former office is now occupied by another two-tongued opportunist, for as long as the Tea Party allows.
Most Republican candidates had already responded to Obama’s actions before he announced them. Chris Christie, who once signed ten gun control bills in New Jersey, called Obama a ‘petulant child’ that wanted to act ‘like a king, like a dictator.’ Of course the fat bully who nominally still governs my state knows a thing or two about acting improperly, although in his case the word ‘thug’ comes to mind more easily than king or dictator. Clearly Christie wants to forget about New Jersey, and the feeling is mutual, although his past here inevitably will come back to bite him at some point in the campaign if he stays in long enough. The rest of the Republican field declared in one way or another that Obama wants to take away peoples’ rights, according to Jeb Bush rights in general and according to Ted Cruz specifically the right to bear arms. These statements stand in stark contrast to the examples Obama gave of constitutional rights that have been violated by irresponsible gun ownership, most obviously the right to life, which logically precedes the rights to the pursuit of liberty and happiness.
Of the outlier candidates Ben Carson took the cake, by comparing gun ownership with health insurance and Obama’s law enforcement with Obamacare. The good doctor is not as much off his game as suffering from the fact that his competitors are rapidly surpassing him in nuttiness. Carly Fiorina stated that Obama should not talk about things like climate change and gun control but only about ISIS, but here we still have to wait and see if the girl was simply having some fun.
Practically all GOP candidates, led by Donald J. Trump, announced that they would immediately veto Obama’s measures if elected into the Oval Office. This too is peculiar, because Obama only took executive action, which cannot be vetoed but would have to be rescinded. It shows that neither the carnival barker nor any of his rivals are ready for the job they’re seeking.
The good news is that they won’t get that job. After Obama’s speech I was looking for a t-shirt to wear today and I stumbled upon a 2008 ‘Vote Obama-Biden’ shirt, which I’m wearing now. The active word is ‘vote,’and that matters maybe even more in 2016 than it did at the time.