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Obama 1, Gun nuts and ‘pond scum’ 0
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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion ...
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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion section of the MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Mass. As such, our focus starts there and spreads to include Massachusetts, the nation and the world. Since successful blogs create communities of readers and writers, we hope the \x34& Co.\x34 will also come to include you.
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By Rick Holmes
May 3, 2013 6:15 p.m.



President Obama has been taking hits from all sides (so what else is new) for his failure to get Congress to vote for things he supports. One of the more stinging blows came from Maureen Dowd’s column suggesting how he could have gotten the gun bill through: “Obama should have called Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota over to the Oval Office and put on the squeeze: “Heidi, you’re brand new and you’re going to have a long career. You work with us, we’ll work with you. Public opinion is moving fast on this issue. The reason you get a six-year term is so you can have the guts to make tough votes. This is a totally defensible bill back home. It’s about background checks, nothing to do with access to guns. Heidi, you’re a mother. Think of those little kids dying in schoolrooms.”

For that, Obama used his routine at the White House Correspondents Dinner to  accuse unnamed commentators of being prone to “Aaron Sorkin liberal fantasies.”

I’m sympathetic to both sides of this argument. Yes, I wish Obama were more feared by members of his own party in Congress, not to mention Republicans. I’m frustrated, just as he is.

But, really: A North Dakota senator has millions of reasons to oppose gun control measures that are geared toward saving lives in places far different than North Dakota (maybe not millions, since there may not be that many voters in North Dakota). It’s her job to make those political calculations, not Obama’s.

By the same token, it’s the job of Republican senators in swing states to make their own political calculations. And at least three of them – Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Rob Portman of Ohio and Jeff Flake of Arizona – calculated wrong, and are paying for it. Thanks for his vote opposing background checks, Flake is now rated the most unpopular Senator, which he said makes him “lower than pond scum” in the eyes of his constituents.

Despite the gloating of Wayne Lapierre and Rob Meltzer, public opinion is swinging away from the gun zealots. Not everywhere, but in enough places that the gun vote is accelerating the Republicans’ transformation into a regional party that will have great difficulty competing in national elections. They can try to blame Obama for that, too.

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