So, this story will make you chuckle. Politico reported yesterday that the White House has basically told anti-gun groups and their allies in Congress to sit down, shut up, and let the White House drive the push for new gun control. Centralization of power when it comes to messaging has been a core characteristic of this administration, and when it comes to an issue as delicate as gun control – this is a tightly run ship.
Ok, so here are the rules:
The implied rules, according to conversations with many of those involved: No infighting. No second-guessing in the press. Support whatever the president and Vice President Joe Biden propose. And most of all, don’t make waves or get ahead of the White House.
In exchange: a voice in the discussions, a role in whatever final agreement is made and weekly meetings at the White House with Biden’s chief of staff, Bruce Reed — provided they don’t discuss what happens there
In short, Reed:
forced a major change on some of Washington’s noisiest advocates: the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Third Way, Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Americans for Responsible Solutions, the organization founded by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and her husband, Mark Kelly. In past fights, gun control groups sparred with each other and got used to dictating the agenda to allies in Congress.
There’s also punishment for those who don’t abide by the rules. The Violence Policy Center was forced to walk the plank when they fought for more restrictions on gun rights, and argued that the failed renewal Assault Weapons Ban in 2004 didn’t go far enough. They’ve been cut out of the loop, and relegated to the “kid’s table.” The Obama administration wasn’t going to entertain a bull in a china closet.
Concerning anti-gun members of Congress, they’ve been very closed mouthed about how the negotiations are going, especially since they’ve virtually collapsed this week. Only tougher gun trafficking laws seem to have enough votes for passage:
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), who hasn’t made a headline since warning the night of the Newtown shootings that “the gloves are off” with the White House if it failed to act on gun control.
McCarthy is holding her tongue on the White House gun control strategy, even though the major push has been for background checks and gun trafficking, not the ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines she has championed for years.
That’s because she is happy enough that the White House is finally backing a gun control push.
If this is how Obama treats its allies, with the shut up or die approach, then we know why this administration can’t govern effectively on anything. Not that we’re complaining or anything,.
It should be fascinating, however, to see if more media outlets start exposing the White House’s heavy-handed manipulation of its left-wing allies as the second term wears on and Obama fatigue starts to set in, especially if the Obama White House strategy bears little fruit in terms of policy wins.