His campaign kicked off in the Arizona Daily Star, with a subtle op-ed that was intentionally vague. The words could be read as a broad endorsement of proposed gun control measures; they also could be read as embracing the NRA mantra that enforcement of current laws is what's needed. But Obama's attempt to place himself at the center of an ideological divide over guns is pure political positioning, and it comes with the rank odor of cold, crass calculation. One can almost hear the tearing of another page from the Clinton playbook.
One thing he definitely got wrong, however, was his arrogant statement that he had "expanded" the rights of gun owners. The Bill of Rights is guaranteed and can't be "expanded" by government, as it contains fundamental natural rights. Those rights can, however, be restricted by illegitimate government fiat, which is why the clear language of the Second Amendment prohibits even "infringement" upon it. But infringement is clearly on the agenda, despite Obama's rhetorical vacillations.
Implementation of the goals set out in his article came via phone calls from Justice Department operatives seeking to arrange a series of "active listening" meetings for groups on both sides of the gun control debate, as well as industry companies and groups. The proposed meetings were intended to develop an agenda of new legislative and regulatory proposals for the White House to embrace and push in Congress.
Let's tally the results thus far.
First, my friends Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox at the NRA not only declined the invitation but did so in the form of a strong letter that gave lie to many of the article's core assertions.
Second, gun control groups eagerly attended their meeting, reporting on the process in glowing tones, which must have brought a rosy glow to the White House operatives assigned to the realignment of the political base. They continue their private muttering about a "lack of leadership" from the White House.
Third, the media panned the Obama strategy and operation. The White House must have been particularly stung by criticism from the editorial board of the Arizona Daily Star itself.
The meetings with other groups will continue. You can bet that we haven't heard the last of this issue. But so far, all that Obama has proved is this old political adage: The only thing accomplished by sitting in the middle of the road is that you can be hit from both sides.