Calm now, more hys­te­ria later

Wary Democrats cool the talk for gun-con­trol leg­is­la­tion

The Washington Times Daily - - EDITORIAL -

Keep­ing calm to carry on is not al­ways re­garded as a virtue in Wash­ing­ton, where there’s al­ways a tele­vi­sion cam­era nearby or a re­porter with a pad and a pen­cil at the ready. Mak­ing par­ti­san noise is the name of the game with an in­fi­nite num­ber of play­ers. Never let a cri­sis go to waste, and all that.

But shoot­ing up a con­gres­sional base­ball prac­tice scared a lot of folks calm, leav­ing them re­luc­tant to carry on in the usual harsh way. It won’t last. Pol­i­tics is a rough game, with lots of sharp el­bows and trash talk. Nev­er­the­less, the week­end was nice even if it was merely the quiet be­fore a new storm moves in.

Or­di­nar­ily, whole­sale death by gun­fire prompts a lot of breast-beat­ing and de­mands by Democrats for Congress to “do some­thing,” and “some­thing” is al­ways leg­is­la­tion to take guns away from the law-abid­ing. Af­ter the mas­sacre at the Pulse night­club in Or­lando, Fla., Sen. Chris Mur­phy of Con­necti­cut set out in three di­rec­tions at once, ac­cus­ing his col­leagues of “an un­con­scionable deaf­en­ing si­lence” about what to do, and to the cheers of the magpie me­dia opened a 15-hour fil­i­buster to demon­strate his pas­sion. Congress, he said, should put for­ward “leg­isla­tive ac­tion within an hour af­ter a shoot­ing.”

This time cir­cum­spec­tion, if not calm, pre­vailed in Demo­cratic ranks. Or maybe it was merely res­ig­na­tion. “You know,” said Sen. Pa­trick Leahy of Vermont to Politico, the po­lit­i­cal daily, “to­day is not the day [for par­ti­san de­mands to do some­thing]. Peo­ple know my record, but to­day is not the day for that. I’m pray­ing for the vic­tims.”

Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Demo­crat in the Se­nate and a fierce ad­vo­cate of all gun con­trol leg­is­la­tion, con­cedes there’s “a feel­ing of res­ig­na­tion” among his Demo­cratic col­leagues. “Un­til there’s sig­nif­i­cant changes around the coun­try or within Congress, we know each other’s po­si­tions and we know they don’t change. There’s a fa­tigue. We know each other’s ar­gu­ments. We know what’s go­ing to hap­pen.”

What’s go­ing to hap­pen, ob­vi­ously, is not very much, and that’s good news. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Vir­ginia, who tried to tighten gun con­trol af­ter ear­lier vi­o­lence, damp­ened spec­u­la­tion about whether another in­ci­dent will en­cour­age new leg­is­la­tion this time. “It al­ways spurs that,” he said. “I just don’t get over-ex­cited any more.”

Sen. Lind­sey Graham of South Carolina, a Repub­li­can, un­der­stands. “I own a gun,” he says. “I don’t go around shoot­ing peo­ple with it. Bot­tom line: Peo­ple get shot, run over by cars, stabbed. It’s just a crazy world. If we had [another gun de­bate], it would end like it al­ways ends. We’re not go­ing to tell law-abid­ing peo­ple they can’t own a gun be­cause of some nut job.”

Over or un­der, ex­cite­ment is just not the game this time among Democrats, sen­si­tive to crit­i­cism that they have created the any­thing­goes hys­te­ria to pun­ish Don­ald Trump and Repub­li­cans, and ea­ger to honor, at least for now, the an­cient proverb that “you don’t speak of rope in the house of a man who was hanged.” That’s prob­a­bly just for the mo­ment. Af­ter all, as a fa­mous philoso­pher of the Old South once said, “to­mor­row is another day.”

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