President Obama took us almost to the mountaintop last night. But he stopped short. Let’s hope he doesn’t turn back. In a lyrical and moving speech, Obama summoned the rhetoric of which he is uniquely capable when his words come from his heart. But he did not mention the guns that had killed those children and brought such horror to a place and such desolation to its people. Maybe last night in Newtown was neither the time nor the place to do so. The president’s message of healing and coming together is one we need to hear. And he did prepare the way for legislative action in the days ahead. Let’s hope so. We have been here before. And each time four things have happened:
- A public outcry to regulate guns.
- The counterattack against the “predictable hysteria” of those who would disarm America. Because the gun lobby’s political flacks were largely silent yesterday means that they aren’t stupid, not that they aren’t working.
- 2nd-Amendment lunacy. I haven’t yet heard the argument that six-year-olds should be armed, but an NRA board member did say that if the teachers had had their guns in school, this tragedy might have been prevented.
- Nothing. The laws in most states are less restrictive than they were before the Arizona killings two years ago; the subject was never discussed during the presidential campaign.
How much worse does it have to get? We do not need more young martyrs. Let these children and their teachers be, finally, the impetus for change.