Monday, January 18, 2016

Father, Son, And Barack Obama

Hillary Clinton hit Bernie Sanders hard on the issue of gun control in their debate (recap, below) Sunday in Charleston, South Carolina.

That was wise because, ideologically, she has nothing else. She does, obviously, have undying devotion to Barack Obama, conspicuously (and justifiably) missing some eight years ago. Now, she says of her primary rival

he’s criticized President Obama for taking donations from Wall Street, and President Obama has led our country out of the great recession. Senator Sanders called him weak, disappointing. He even, in 2011, publicly sought someone to run in a primary against President Obama. Now, I personally believe that President Obama’s work to push through the Dodd-Frank...

If you're defending President Obama's record on Wall Street reform, you've checked your progressive credentials (on that issue) at the door. Understandably, Clinton was more effusive about Obama on health care when she told Sanders

You know, I have to say I’m not sure whether we’re talking about the plan you just introduced tonight, or we’re talking about the plan you introduced nine times in the Congress. But the fact is, we have the Affordable Care Act. That is one of the greatest accomplishments of President Obama, of the Democratic Party, and of our country....

But, with all due respect, to start over again with a whole new debate is something that I think would set us back. The Republicans just voted last week to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and thank goodness, President Obama vetoed it and saved Obamacare for the American people.

The undercurrent to the Republican campaign is: Jesus saves! For the Clinton campaign, it's: Obama saves!  Thank goodness for the man with the courage to veto abolition of his own health care program and to protect the Masters of the Universe for destroying the nation's economy.

It's high praise and regard for the man whom, Bill Maher notes, "cut taxes on 98 percent of Americans. He cut the deficit by two-thirds. He reduced the size of government, which is something that Bush and Reagan never did. " And it leads to some strange remarks, such as when Mrs. Clinton attacked Senator Sanders because

He voted to let guns go onto the Amtrak, guns go into National Parks. He voted against doing research to figure out how we can save lives. Let’s not forget what this is about, 90 people a day die from gun violence in our country. That’s 33,000 people a year.

Oh, dear. Someone else was in favor of allowing guns in National Parks.  Tom Murse at US Politics wrote eleven months ago

In fact, Obama signed only two major laws that address how guns are carried in America, and both actually expand the rights of gun owners.

One of the laws allows gun owners to carry weapons in national parks; that law took effect in February 2012 and replaced President Ronald Reagan's policy of required guns be locked in glove compartments of trunks of car that enter national parks.

Another gun law signed by Obama allows Amtrak passengers to carry guns in checked baggage, a move that reversed a measure put in place after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Obama often mentions the expansion of gun rights under those two laws.

He wrote in 2011:

"In this country, we have a strong tradition of gun ownership that's handed from generation to generation. Hunting and shooting are part of our national heritage. And, in fact, my administration has not curtailed the rights of gun owners - it has expanded them, including allowing people to carry their guns in national parks and wildlife refuges."

Since then, of course, Barack Obama has gotten much better, especially in funding the FBI to hire more than 230 individuals to accelerate background checks on purchases of firearms. German Lopez at Vox explains

An equally big problem is that the system of background checks is notoriously underfunded, understaffed, and underresourced. Although there are no waiting periods under federal law, a check that turns out inconclusive can be extended for three business days. But these three days are a maximum for the government — and sometimes the three days lapse without the FBI completing its check, and a buyer can at that point purchase a gun without the completed check.

President Obama has acted far more decisively in his second term than in his first in targeting gun violence. But the idea that he has unequivocally pursued sufficiently progressive aims throughout his presidency- whether on firearm safety, health care, financial reform, privacy rights, or a host of other matters- is absurd.  Even someone who practically refers to President Obama as a deity should recognize that.

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