Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said Tuesday that the gun control debate doesn't have anything to do with the families of the Newtown, Conn., shooting victims, and that the only reason those families think it does is because President Barack Obama told them it did.
Eleven family members of Newtown victims were in Washington on Tuesday, meeting privately with senators to urge them to support a forthcoming gun package that would impose tighter background checks, crack down on gun trafficking and enhance school safety measures. Speaking to a handful of reporters, Inhofe said he feels bad for those families because they're being used as pawns in a political fight.
"See, I think it's so unfair of the administration to hurt these families, to make them think this has something to do with them when, in fact, it doesn't," Inhofe said.
When it was suggested that the families of Newtown victims actually believe the gun debate pertains to them, Inhofe said, "Well, that's because they've been told that by the president."
My main argument Saturday was that Republicans weren't going to pay a political price for opposing background checks. It's entirely conceivable that Inhofe's idiotic statement here may just have changed the calculus on that, big time.
To recap, a sitting US Senator just told the families of the victims of a bloody massacre of six-year-olds that they have nothing to do with the gun violence debate, and that they are nothing more than pawns. Even if Inhofe believes this, to actually say something that unrelentingly cold to reporters is a pretty awful thing to do.
Suddenly, the villain in this kabuki play isn't the caricature of Tyrant Obama, but Inhofe's own words. That's a pretty big shift, potentially.
Still virtually no chance of this getting through the House. But the Senate, well...there's light at the end of that tunnel.
The Senate will hold a preliminary vote on gun control legislation to break the Republican filibuster on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced, after the Democrats pulled together enough votes from Republicans.
“We’re going to vote Thursday,” Reid said. “I’m going to file cloture on the bill tonight.”
Though Democrats do have the numbers to break the filibuster, they still might not have enough votes to overcome other procedural hurdles and hold an up-or-down vote.
They will after Inhofe's story gets wide play. Cowardly Dems will have nowhere to hide on this one and neither will a number of Republicans. If the point of President Obama's push on gun legislation was giving the GOP enough rope to hang themselves, Inhofe jumped at the chance to go first.