“It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
—William Shakespeare, Macbeth
Once again, President Obama has demonstrated that he’s all political style, and zero substance.
On Wednesday—once again emphasizing the urgent need to take decisive action to save lives—he announced a series of executive actions he is undertaking unilaterally to reduce gun violence. Further highlighting the importance that we do this to protect the safety of children, and in an impossibly cynical and sophomoric bit of political showmanship, he surrounded himself on stage with a bunch of grade-schoolers. We have to do this for the kids.
It’s too bad that the executive orders he signed have essentially nothing to do with preventing gun violence.
Consistent with everything else this man has said over the last four years, the list—up to 23 items from the advertised 19—is chock full of vague platitudes like “launch a national dialogue . . . on mental health.” What the hell does that mean? In all, there were five items relating to data sharing and tracing (i.e., knowing which law-abiding citizens have guns, and where they go after a crime has been committed) two on research, two on safety standards and practices, and one each on the prosecution of gun crimes (again, after the crime has already been committed) and administrative matters. In fairness, three items related to training and response plans for law enforcement and school officials, although query how that’s in any way a legitimate federal responsibility or even prerogative. But a whopping FIVE—basically a quarter of the entire list—dealt with issuing or clarifying new regulations under Obamacare.
Health care regulations are going to prevent gun crimes? Really?
In all, roughly half the list dealt with tracking law-abiding citizens and the unconstitutional health care law. Not surprisingly, Wednesday’s actions also included some $4.5 billion in new spending. By all means throw some money at the issue. Among the whoppers in the spending are $150 million for new school resource and guidance counselors, $50 million for schools to create “safer and more nurturing” environments, and $50 million to train social workers, counselors, psychologists, and other mental health professionals. I guess we’re now turning these people into either the new gun-control enforcers or at least government informants; they’ll eventually be subject to liability if they fail to turn someone in and that person later shoots someone. Worse, the prospect that they in their sole judgment have the power to put people under federal scrutiny has to have a chilling effect on people’s willingness to go seek help when they need it. Sounds like a positive step, doesn’t it?
Like so much from this President, Wednesday’s announcements contained a lot of noise, but at the end of the day didn’t do much. I suppose I should be thankful that, at least for now, Obama has kept his exercise of Imperial authority to a relatively modest level on this issue. On the whole it’s a bunch of nothing at least as it relates to the stated goal of actually preventing gun violence. But at least he acted, and he did so within a month of the school shootings in Connecticut.
And boy, did it make for good political TV.
But contrast his swift, if meaningless, action in this instance with some other notable issues facing his administration.
It’s been now five years, and he has never presented Congress with a meaningful budget. What little effort he has made in this regard has been routinely and unanimously rejected even by his own party. Given his current insistence that Congress must raise the debt ceiling yet again and do so without placing any contingencies concerning reducing future spending, one begins to suspect that the underlying problem may be he has absolutely no idea what a budget is.
It’s been 129 days since the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya was attacked in what now appears to have been a large military-style assault. Four Americans were killed while the White House and/or CIA watched live via spy drone. These were Americans that, unlike the children in Connecticut, actually were the federal government’s—and, more to the point, this Administration’s—responsibility. Obama’s own State Department put these people in harm’s way, and kept them there despite obvious warning signs and repeated pleas for help. Yet for all his talk about the urgency to take action to save even one life, President Obama hasn’t even had the temerity to address the nation on what happened. Not exactly a bias for action there.
It’s been over two years since federal agent Brian Terry was killed near the Mexican border; yet another dead American. Ironically, in this instance not only was Terry’s safety the responsibility of the federal government, but he was killed by guns; guns allowed into the hands of Mexican gangsters by this Administration. Yet there’s still been no real explanation to the American public or to the Terry family, and no real fallout from the incident.
We are still in Afghanistan with no mission, even though Osama Bin Laden was killed nearly two years ago. Meanwhile, over 1500 Americans have been killed in Afghanistan during Obama’s four years and three weeks on the job. That’s nearly three times more than killed during the entire eight years of the Bush administration, in half the time. Indeed, just in the time since Bin Laden’s death, the number of Americans killed in Afghanistan has nearly matched the total Bush-era fatalities (606 vs. 630).
This guy is all about what makes him look good, and nothing more. For all his flowery talk about saving lives, the actions he took Wednesday have little to do with that. When it’s been time to face up to real issues in a substantive way, particularly when there’s no good political theater to be had, he’s a complete no-show. Even on other issues when there’s been real action he could legitimately take to save American lives, if it won’t make him look good on TV, he’d rather just wait out the news cycle and hope everyone moves on to American Idol and forgets about it.
At least his handicap is going down.