Marco Rubio's response to Obama's gun initiative shows that he is beyond real policy discussions and on to campaigning for president. PHOTO: Reuters
Obama has not been officially inaugurated for his second term, but Marco Rubio is already acting like a candidate for 2016 by doing what presidential candidates do: make vapid, meaningless statements disguised as nuanced opinion on policy. So it was with his response to President Obama's gun reforms, which were announced today. Rubio released a statement which was likely written before Obama's announcement:
"Rolling back responsible citizens’ rights is not the proper response to tragedies committed by criminals and the mentally ill. Making matters worse is that President Obama is again abusing his power by imposing his policies via executive fiat instead of allowing them to be debated in Congress. President Obama’s frustration with our republic and the way it works doesn’t give him license to ignore the Constitution.
“Guns are not the problem; criminals with evil in their hearts and mentally ill people prone to violence are. Rather than sweeping measures that make it harder for responsible, law-abiding citizens to purchase firearms, we should focus on the root causes of gun violence and keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill."
Let me parse this one sentence by sentence, and occasionally, word by word. First: "rolling back responsible citizens' rights." Let's say Congress gives Obama everything he asks for here (which is only slightly more likely than Congress giving ME everything I ask for). Law-abiding citizens would lose their right to buy assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. That's it. Yes, rights would be reduced, but please, find me the guy who needs the right to fire off ten rounds without reloading, and then we'll talk.
Now, how about Obama "abusing his power," via "executive fiat." Nice use of fiat, sounds much more sinister than "executive order," the standard name for what Obama did. Of course, Obama's actions were split between executive orders, which don't have to go through Congress, and legislative proposals, which do. It's not like any of that "ignores the Constitution," but that is a way to excite Rubio's base.
And how about those policies "imposed via executive fiat?" Well, they address everything Rubio says that we should address in this statement: keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill (they do more, but nothing that involves taking away anyone's guns).
Which leads me to my next point: Rubio doesn't care what Obama actually proposed. If he did, his statement might go something like: "background checks and measures to prevent the mentally ill from getting guns are a good idea, but I disagree with the proposal to reinstate the assault weapons ban, and plan to oppose this measure when it is presented in the senate."
So why didn't he? Because Rubio's statement sounds better to Republicans in Iowa, New Hampshire and everywhere else that might propel him to be the 2016 Republican nominee.