Trump and McConnell playact at doing something about background checks

Trump and McConnell playact at doing something about background checks
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY, left) and President Donald Trump (right). Image via screengrab.
The Right Wing

Perhaps the most horrifically cynical thing Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump have done yet is the song and dance that they're both considering backing expanded background checks for the purchase of firearms, lapped up by The New York Times. What they're actually doing is dawdling, giving the appearance of considering acting at some point in the future while allowing time to pass for the cries for urgent action to dwindle and eventually die down.

Trump reinforced that Friday morning in tweets saying that "Serious discussions are taking place between House and Senate leadership" on expanded background checks that would keep guns away from "mentally ill or deranged people." Said this is "common sense." It was common sense when President Barack Obama did it with an executive order, acting when the Republican Congress refused to do so after the slaughter of little children at Sandy Hook. One of the Senate's first acts when Trump became president was to pass legislation overturning that regulation, which Trump happily signed.

That fact receives a glancing treatment in this story by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Maggie Haberman, and Jonathan Martin. So does this: "Mr. Trump's eldest daughter and senior adviser, Ivanka Trump, [is] aggressively lobbying the president to take action, according to Republican officials who have been in touch with her." Or according to Maggie Haberman, who moonlights as Ivanka's PR flack.

As for Trump, he's addled enough that he probably thinks he can successfully manipulate the NRA to do something, and wants to do it for a dramatic moment for his ongoing reality show. Yes, according to the Times’ inside sources, he's already planning the show, and has "talked up the idea of a signing ceremony in the Rose Garden and insisted that he believed it would be successful, according to those briefed on the call." That didn't sway NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, apparently.

In the reality that is not in Trump's head but is actual real life, LaPierre isn't going to let Trump—or McConnell—do anything. After Trump and McConnell made noises about the things they might consider doing at some unspecified time in the future, he reiterated that the NRA "opposes any legislation that unfairly infringes upon the rights of law-abiding citizens." Which is any legislation at all.

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