A short while ago, Barack Obama stepped to a podium in the East Room of the White House to flesh out the specifics of his executive action to rein in gun violence.
As has become the president’s hallmark, he made sure that “14 people whose lives were changed by gun violence” were there to share the triumphal moment. In other words, he had so little faith in his own ability to persuade the American people that he means business and has the legal standing to make his prescriptions stick that he needed to “paper the house.”
It wasn’t just in this regard — or in his deliberate failure to include people whose lives were saved because of their access to legally obtained handguns — that Obama politicized the event. He also rattled off a list of places forever etched in the memory of Americans by the gun violence that occurred there.
Among the places was San Bernardino. By any reasonable and objective accounting, the 14 murders by Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik were acts of terror first and gun violence second. The fact that the couple rigged explosives to kill first responders should by itself be sufficient to put the lie to Obama’s inclusion of that locality in his list of gun-related tragedies.
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As to whether he is giving more than lip service to the issue of gun violence, in order to meet another campaign promise before his tenure is up, remains to be seen. As the Associated Press wrote this morning, “even the … modest steps Obama will announce Tuesday rely on murky interpretations of existing law that could be easily reversed by his successor.”
Whether that happens or whether they are shot down by the courts, one might hope that here in the twilight of Obama’s presidency he could at least once rise to the courage of his own alleged convictions. Instead, the man who voted present 90% of the time has just done it again.