Not for nothing President Obama has been reticent about Gun Control so far. He had to remind American Media that he was 'not on vacation' last four years. The reason is Congress. In the end laws have to be passed by both chambers and with 'crazies populating House', nothing is certain. Carrie Brown of Politico is right to contend that 'flop of Boehner Plan B' is a bad news for President since it is now proven that he does not have any partner to deal with, to solve issues of America and to deliver a legislation.
But then President Obama has been bold from time to time in his political career - starting from taking on Hillary in primary, passing of Health Care Act, bailing out Auto-Industry and killing of OBL. Now is the time for him to be bold again.
At the core, the paralysis of American Governance is due to two fatal flaws which govern both chambers of Congress:
- misuse of filibuster by Minority in Senate and
- adherence to badly constructed 'majority of majority' convention in House.
President Obama has been tepid in his urge to Senate to change the filibuster rule even though he has been burnt maximum due to negative effects of this rule; just look at how his nominations have been killed over years. Senate leader Reid has indicated his willingness to alter 'filibuster rule'; but needs to concretely execute on that promise so as to stop extreme abuses of filibuster (like requiring 60 votes to even table a bill).
As they say, earlier GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert instituted a practice whereby unless support of 'majority in the majority party' is there; no bill would come to the floor. This has 2 negative consequences in our polarized politics:
- crazies in majority are able to stop any bill which they oppose without any accountability towards governance and
- despite having votes to pass a bill in House (with the help of other party); such possible bills simply die.
It is not just the implosion of Boehner Plan B, but how are we ever going to get votes in House for increasing Debt Ceiling or Immigration Reform or Gun Control or even resolution of Fiscal Cliff? How is Senate even going to floor those bills if Sen. McConnell of GOP is not forbidden from misusing filibuster? In other words, agenda of Obama's entire Second Term is useless unless he is able to elevate the position of House Speaker to Parliamentary Style House Speaker (who would allow bills to the floor without 'majority of majority' support) and drag kicking and screaming Senate to modern era. Obama's second term will be nothing more than simply 'care taking presidency' unless he brings to American People's attention 'how exactly dysfunction in Congress' is stopping America. He implores Americans to pressure Congress for Gun Control laws. More importantly he should rally American Public to force Congress to rise for Governance and these two changes are critical for that. Not only chances of passing of Gun Control are higher in that scenario, host of other critical issues as well will start moving.
Non-working Congress is nothing new to Americans and folks like Bob Woodward incorrectly expect President to do the 'voodoo magic' of making 'crazies in House' to yield to senses. But if President Obama uses his word power, eloquence, power of Oval Office and his popularity to highlight these 'fundamental cracks' in foundations of Congress; he would have removed core impediments for success in his second term.
Folding knees and bending over to Tea Party - that did not solve problems; those simply got pushed to the next election. Having won that election, President Obama can be brave to fight for institutionalizing these fundamental changes in the way Congress works. Without that he will be a foot note in History vindicating Palin prophecy of irrelevance of 'Person of the Year adulation'.