By Barbara Shelly
Kansas City Star
Pat Toomey, the U.S. senator from Pennsylvania who broke ranks with the GOP and joined with Democrat Joe Manchin in sponsoring a bill demanding universal background checks for gun purchases, had some interesting things to say last week in an interview with journalists from his home state.
In a postmortem on the gun bill, which failed to gain the requisite 60 votes needed to overcome a silent filibuster in the Senate, Toomey mused: “In the end it didn’t pass because we’re so politicized. There were some on my side who did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it.”
The only surprise here is the person doing the talking. It’s hardly news that Republicans in Congress have mistakenly bought into the notion that their oath of office includes opposing President Barack Obama’s initiatives, even if Americans overwhelmingly agree with the president, as is the case with the background checks. But to have a Republican senator confirm that dynamic is noteworthy.
The Republican obstructionists aren’t fooling anyone but themselves. About the time Toomey was being interviewed, the Republican National Committee was preparing a You Tube message claiming that Obama had been ineffective in the first 100 days of his second term.
It features a voice on a newscast saying, “The gun bill failed, the sequester is here to stay...” Cravenly, the political commercial even flashes to a photo of Obama consoling one of the parents who lost a child in the Newtown, Conn., shooting.
How sad is that? By Toomey’s admission, Republicans won’t vote for sensible gun safety legislation because they can’t give Obama a political victory. Then they turn around and accuse him of being ineffective. Moreover, their insensitivity to victims and survivors of gun violence is stunning.
It’s no wonder Americans are so cynical about our political system.
Interestingly, Main Line Media News, the parent company of several publications in the Philadelphia area, reports that polling shows that Toomey’s approval ratings have jumped to record levels in Pennsylvania since he sponsored the gun bill, which 85 percent of the state’s residents support.
The question is, will he face a Republican primary? And could he win one?
Barbara Shelly is a columnist for the Kansas City Star. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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