by Jules Witcover
Still reeling from the Republican defeat in the 2012 presidential election, House Speaker John Boehner warned in a
The embattled speaker declared that the administration would focus "everything in the next 22 months," until the next midterm congressional elections, on attempting "to annihilate the
President Obama undoubtedly wishes that American voters will somehow drive the
Republicans' unyielding obstructionism in the first term, blatantly advertised by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's vow to make Obama a one-term president, was only part of the Republican self-immolation. Romney's own hapless dismissal of "the 47 percent of Americans" as beyond his reach because they were on the federal dole was a huge political handout in itself, as Obama and the Democrats championed themselves as the protectors of the put-upon middle class.
More specifically, the Republican opposition to immigration reform, most prominently embraced by the party's tea-party conservatives, proved to be a massive mobilizer of Hispanic votes for Obama, to the tune of 73 percent of that ethnic vote on
Republicans have since jettisoned their intransigence on immigration reform, and Sen. John McCain identified the reason in one word: "Elections." The more clear-headed of his Republican colleagues joining a stampede to respond to the Hispanic-American demand for serious immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for their undocumented brethren.
A post-election push in the
It remains to be seen whether this newfound spirit of cooperation among some Senate Republicans -- which seems to recognize not only the results of the November election but also the damage the party has done to its brand and image -- will be duplicated with respect to other issues. On the other post-election matter that has generated new energy -- the campaign for stronger legislative action against gun violence -- the Republican response has been much less intensive and certain.
Despite the visible efforts of President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to rally public support for a resurrected ban on assault weapons, the strength of the opposition is reflected in the apparent willingness of some gun-control advocates to settle for tighter background checks on buyers of guns and semi-automatic ammunition magazines.
The pro-control forces played a powerful card of persuasion Wednesday with the arresting testimony of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who nearly died in a gun attack, and of her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly. Later counter-testimony by the ever-defiant NRA leader Wayne LaPierre continued to stoke partisan fires, supported by freshman Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Nevertheless, on any functioning empathy meter, LaPierre was no match for the dramatic Giffords-Kelly presentation.
Moving Republican votes in
On both issues, though,
Why Annihilate the GOP? | Politics