Saturday, May 4, 2013

Voting against Obama even if it kills us

Pat Toomey (R-PA) has admitted in an interview that the bill for expanded background checks for gun purchases was defeated because Republicans opposed the bill out of a desire to deny the president a victory.  This is regardless of the fact that over 90% of Americans want stronger background checks. Here is what Toomey said, according to a write-up in the Times Herald:

In the end it didn’t pass because we’re so politicized. There were some on my side who did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it.” In subsequent comments, he tried to walk that remark part-way back by noting he meant to say Republicans across the nation in general, not just those in the Senate. “The toughest thing to do in politics is to do the right thing when your supporters think the right thing is something else.”

According to Toomey, what doomed Manchin-Toomey is that Republicans across the country opposed it because the president supported it. Having a Republican on record confirming this is useful. As Steve Benen notes, it makes the accusations that Obama needs to “lead” and “twist arms” look ridiculousin fact, it makes those who say this look ignorant.

Toomey’s concession is particularly relevant to the ongoing debate over Obama’s remarks at his latest press conference. He said:

“…Their base thinks that compromise with me is somehow a betrayal. They’re worried about primaries. And I understand all that. And we’re going to try to do everything we can to create a permission structure for them to be able to do what’s going to be best for the country. But it’s going to take some time.”This is no different from what Toomey said about his own party.

Toomey took a very big political risk by entering into negotiations on a proposal to expand background checks. He knew would it rile up the “gun rights” portion of the GOP base. Toomey and Joe Manchin — both Senators from states with deep gun cultures – negotiated a compromise that went to great lengths to show deference to the gun culture and gun owners. It exempted private transfers through non-commercial portals, so transfers among family members, friends, gun hobbyists and hunters would not be touched, and strengthened prohibitions against the national gun registry conservatives claimed to fear. The idea underlying the proposal was backed by over 80% of Americans. It had the support of a majority of the Senate – including Republicans like John McCain.

Toomey spent weeks trying to talk fellow Republicans – officials and voters alike – into accepting this compromise. But it did not work – virtually all Republican Senators voted against it.  And there is no mystery as to why.  According to Toomey, Republican voters across the country would not support this common sense effort to address a problem that is killing thousands of Americans every year simply because Obama supported it. 

Speaking of biting off your own nose to spite your face…that is just what Republicans are doing.  They will vote against Obama to keep from giving him any type of victory, even if it kills the rest of us.