Obama was elected in 2008 in the midst of an economic catastrophe that cost countless Americans their jobs, their savings, their homes, and their healthcare coverage. He thought the time was ripe for this country to join the ranks of developed nations that offer universal healthcare to their citizens–and who enjoy dramatically better outcomes than we do for a fraction of what we pay.
He was wrong. Millions rose up in outrage, demanding that our system remain sub par and unaffordable, that it continue to pour untold billions into the coffers of big insurance and pharmaceutical companies while stinting on the needs of patients. Though Obamacare narrowly prevailed, the plan does little to cut costs and much to maintain the profitability of corporate medicine.
In the wake of Newtown and other mass shootings, Obama, who has governed as one of the gun-friendliest presidents of modern times, intimated that he would try to enact some mild gun control measures. The usual suspects hit the ceiling–some of them have even gone so far as to suggest that Obama ordered the hit on the little children himself, so he could take good Americans’ guns away (others opine that Israel sent a death squad to Connecticut–cf. Michael Moynihan at The Daily Beast for a rundown of these and other theories).
Obama isn’t their only target, of course. Joe Biden, who is overseeing the White House’s gun control efforts, has been a lightning rod as well. Senator Diane Feinstein, who has already introduced legislation in the Senate, is the subject of a petition at the White House’s “We the People” site, which demands that she be impeached for “her blatant disregard for the rights of citizens, and willingness to make criminals of a large number of law abiding gun owners. “A conservative coalition has scheduled a “Gun Appreciation Day” to coincide with the inauguration.
“The Obama administration has shown that it is more than willing to trample the Constitution to impose its dictates upon the American people,” said Gun Appreciation Day chairman Larry Ward, president of Political Media, Inc. “If the American people don’t fight back now, Obama will do the Second Amendment what he has already done to the First with Obamacare – gut it without a moment’s thought to our basic constitutional rights.”
The hysteria about guns and healthcare has a lot of commonalities, but there are differences too. This time around Obama and the Democrats are no longer illusioned about the possibility of governing from any kind of bi-partisan consensus. Obama negotiated with himself when he was devising Obamacare; he gave an awful lot away before any legislation was even written. Even so, the PPACA–a Rube Goldberg machine of half measures if there ever was one–passed without a scintilla of Republican support.
A lot of water has gone under the bridge. Obama has not just been elected but re-elected–and he’s met with the parents of the murdered children in Newtown. Most Americans–most American gun owners for that matter–aren’t gun nuts at all. If I were Obama, I’d be more afraid of disappointing those grieving parents than all the Wayne LaPierres and Larry Pratts and Larry Wards in the world. Obama’s enemies have already accused him of being Hitler, the second coming of Karl Marx, and the Anti-Christ. What else could they possibly say about him now?