Don’t underestimate how much the Newtown killings can change politics. It has happened before.
In 1995, President Clinton was struggling to be relevant in a Washington dominated by Newt Gingrich and his newly triumphant Republican majority. Then came the Oklahoma City bombing. Seizing the moment, Clinton spoke for the nation’s grief and anger. The tone of politics shifted. Gingrich and the Republicans began a long, slow slide. Clinton cruised to reelection. Gingrich never recovered.
Even the horror of that bombing doesn’t compare to this. Nothing compares to the cold-blooded, face-to-face murder of little children in schoolrooms.
Americans are united in grief. But we’re divided in our anger. Many of us are angry about guns. Many are angry because their guns are threatened.
You can watch the divide play out on social media. Friends and relatives argue on-line – or unfriend each other.
President Obama spoke eloquently to the grief of all and to the anger about guns.
He clearly is planning something. And he has to act. While passions inevitably will cool and the NRA will bide its time, there is too much political pressure on the President and congressional Democrats.
This is going to be a bitter and divisive battle. Like the slavery debate in “Lincoln,” there can be no compromise – one winner and one loser.
And the battle could change politics dramatically.