Thursday even, President Biden chose to hold a rare primetime speech event on national television. When Presidents decide to use the bully pulpit to advance something, it’s worth noting. In the digital media age, that power has waned somewhat, requiring Presidents to use those moments more carefully. It’s notable when they use it and when they waste those moments.
President Biden chose to waste one of his bully pulpit moments on gun control. An issue near the bottom of everyone’s priority lists, even after a gruesome mass shooting in Texas. In a moment where inflation rages, gas prices are skyrocketing, and Biden’s poll numbers tank, he’s trying to talk about an issue no one cares about in the slightest.
That includes Democrats.
Gun control: a bad issue for Democrats.
Here’s how bad it is for Democrats on the issue of guns: Republicans are daring them to hold a vote. After President Biden gave his speech on gun control, urging on Congress, Senate Republicans were quick to join in the commentary.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted, “I stand ready to vote on ALL the proposals mentioned by President Biden tonight and encourage the Democratic Leader to bring them forward for votes. I also stand ready to work across the aisle to find common ground – something that was absent from President Biden’s address to the nation.”
Why is this happening? Because contentious votes over firearms benefit Republicans in this electoral environment.
The Hill reports that “While members of his caucus and progressive activists are pushing him to force the GOP to vote on an array of proposals, Schumer also wants to protect Democrats in tough races in purple states from taking tough votes. One Democratic senator who requested anonymity to discuss internal caucus dynamics said Schumer right now is closely attuned to the preferences of senators in tough races who need to win to keep an evenly split Senate in Democratic hands.”
The Hill also notes, “it’s not lost on Democrats that the last time they had an extended debate and votes on ambitious gun proposals in 2013, they lost nine seats and their Senate majority in the following election. Democrats also believe they lost the 2000 presidential race in part because of attacks on an assault weapons ban that was then in place but expired in 2004.”
To prove this point, Senator Chuck Schumer started out saying he had no plans for an immediate vote on gun control measures. And soon after that, he was suddenly promising his caucus to force a vote after Memorial Day. The green light on a vote gave the Senate room to negotiate the parameters of some legislation.
Democratic show votes.
Schumer has already admitted that any legislation is likely to fail. These are show votes, just like previous votes on abortion laws were show votes.
The problem with a show vote is that it hurts those running in close races. In 2022, those people will be House and Senate Democrats.
And so we go again, on another show vote ride. Destination: pain for Democrats.
It’s a waste of time, just like Biden’s speech wasted the Presidential bully pulpit. The topics that matter to people are inflation, gas prices, and more. Biden could find ways to work with the GOP and moderate Democrats to pursue a more moderate course on fixing issues with the country.
But we’re stuck with show votes instead.
The real issues that need attention.
We’re getting show votes instead of focusing on issues like the baby formula shortage. CBS News reports that shortages of baby formula are getting worse nationwide. Bloomberg analysis of retail chains found that one in five US states is experiencing 90% empty shelves for baby formula. Nationwide, 74% of shelves are bare for this critical product.
While Biden has touted his successes, the shortages have gotten worse.
The shortage of baby formula is a microcosm of this White House. They’re pushing show votes and accept no responsibility. In a press briefing before the President’s speech, the White House refused to answer when Biden was first briefed on the baby formula shortage and who first told him.
You can point to any number of issues since last year where this same process has occurred: Inflation, Afghanistan withdrawal, oil and gas shortages, COVID-19 policies, etc. Everything he’s touched has imploded, and no one takes responsibility.
Biden has attempted to blame his staff for these shortcomings in various reports. And there’s probably some truth to that assertion. But it’s one thing to hire one bad apple, and it’s another to pick a whole bushel of them. Even if Biden fired people, it’s still up to him to hire the replacements.
Biden has earned his low poll numbers thus far. He’s wasting prime time Presidential speeches to offer nothing new while saying little and doing nothing.