Democrats in Congress likely could have had a vote on background checks, and perhaps even a red flag law, back in September, but Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer decided to push impeachment instead of continuing to push for gun control. Now the pair are asking President Trump to pretty please ignore all this nasty impeachment business and get behind a “universal background check” bill, even as they attempt to remove him from office.
“We believe that you have an historic opportunity to save lives, simply by reaffirming your clear support for strengthening background checks, which you have publicly supported before, which are supported by more than 90 percent of the public and which are ready to be brought to the Senate Floor,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote to Trump on Wednesday.
Not only are Pelosi and Schumer playing politics here, but they’re also playing fast and loose with the facts. President Trump never backed HR 8, the universal background check bill. In fact, he vowed to veto the bill if it got to his desk back in February, when the Democrat-controlled House passed the measure. After the shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Trump did talk about doing “something” with background checks, but it was clear that he still didn’t support universal background check language. From September:
President Donald Trump will not consider the House-passed universal background checks bill as part of his proposed gun package, according to a source familiar with the conversation on guns.
Trump’s position on the House-passed bill is not exactly a surprise. The White House issued a veto threat against the bill in February.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have called on Trump repeatedly to bring up the House-passed universal background checks bill. Over the weekend, Pelosi and Schumer issued a statement following a phone call with Trump that anything other than the House-passed bill “will not get the job done.”
Pelosi and Schumer’s background check bill never had the support of the president, in other words. This week’s political posturing by the pair is just a pathetic attempt to try to keep the gun control push alive in Congress, even though it was their decision to pursue impeachment, along with Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke’s call to confiscate firearms that killed any momentum for a vote on any gun control measures.
If the Democratic leaders had been able to hold their caucus together and stick with legislative efforts to enact some gun laws, they likely would have been successful. Once they decided to pursue impeachment, however, there was no way the White House was going to cooperate with the same politicians trying to oust the president from office.
Now, Chuck and Nancy are stuck in an impeachment process that is almost certainly going to lead to an impeachment vote in the House and an acquittal by the U.S. Senate, while polling suggests that the impeachment push isn’t hurting Trump in the all-important swing states. In fact, it might even be helping him, as my colleague Ed Morrissey points out at HotAir.
House Democrats may see themselves as the defender of norms, but voters may be seeing them as underminers of the disruption they wanted with Trump. If voters see them as the establishment trying to reassert dominance over the electorate, we may be in line for a big backfire a year from now.
How can this be? Trump is one of the most unpopular presidents — in national polling, sure, but also in state-by-state polling as well. House Democrats have spent all year demanding his impeachment, first over the Robert Mueller special-counsel probe of the 2016 election, then regarding alleged obstruction of justice detailed in Mueller’s report, and now over the Ukraine affair. Even if voters aren’t necessarily excited about impeachment, any normal politician would have seen their electoral support eroded by now.
The easy response to that is to echo Trump’s self-assessment as an extraordinary politician, but the real answer may be less about Trump than it is about these voters. The 2016 election was driven by rejection of the establishment in both political parties; Clinton managed to survive a close primary, but populist voters pushed Trump to the GOP nomination. In the general election, the same voters rejected Clinton’s promise of establishment continuity for Trump’s disruption of establishment control. …
Seen in this light, House Democrats may have set themselves up for a huge backfire. Their demands for impeachment could look very much like a concerted effort by the political establishment to thwart the will of these voters.
Ironically, while Schumer and Pelosi are talking about the will of the voters to get new gun control laws on the books, they’re the ones that ultimately scuttled any chance of a vote on any gun bills. Their current political posturing can’t disguise the fact that if they really wanted new gun laws, they would have rejected the calls from their fellow Democrats to “impeach the mother******” and continued working with the White House on background checks and red flag laws.