by Jules Witcover
Of all the words spoken, written about, broadcast, googled, tweeted or even just mused over in President Obama's State of the Union address, none were more pointedly delivered than the four in his direct appeal for tighter gun-control legislation: "They deserve a vote."
The president saved the words for the speech's conclusion, after more than an hour-long shopping list of foreign and domestic challenges laid at the feet of a largely dysfunctional
Obama put the heat on with effective
The argument was thus effectively joined. Second Amendment gun defenders, led by the NRA, and gun-control advocates proceeded to wage an intensified war of words over specific proposals. They have ranged from arming schools, which is favored by the NRA, to flat bans on battlefield-type assault weapons, which the gun lobby fiercely opposes.
At the same time, the president hit the campaign trail in his post-election vow to take his case to the voters. Obama launched a new round of grass-roots rallies and speeches intended to light a fire under
The war of words has now obliged the NRA to go into an uncommon defensive crouch. Speculation is increasing that, despite the pressure group's stranglehold on
While the administration continues to press for restoring the ban on semi-automatic weapons, which
Behind Obama's demand that the most recent gun-violence victims "deserve a vote" is a broad public consensus that
Together with the continuing tug of war between the
All this, capped by President Obama's post-election pivot to a tougher, less conciliatory posture on a range of issues including gun-control legislation, not only the NRA but the
Sobered by the 2012 election, some Republicans are calling upon their party leaders to acknowledge the erosion of Hispanic and Asian electoral support from the
That view, put on nationwide display in Republican response to Obama's State of the Union Address by the earnest new party star, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, was unconvincing in its simple rehash. Beyond his admirable efforts to find a compromise path of genuine immigration reform, he came off as a younger preacher from the same pulpit of trickle-down economic and fiscal solutions.
Obama's "they deserve a vote" refrain reflected a general weariness in the country over the inability of both parties in
Obama's Blunt Challenge to Congress | Politics