Watching Kudlow tonight. The discussants agreed that the Republicans have mostly defeated the Democrats’ latest gun-control scheme, which has been reduced to arguments about the scope of federal background checks. This is small stuff as compared to the broad gun and magazine bans Democrats initially promised. Kudlow and at least one of his guests thought the Republicans would be wise to concede on the remaining issues, and Kudlow was eager to move the discussion on to the topic of Congressional budget negotiations. I think he missed the point. The Republicans won on guns for two reasons. First, the weight of public opinion shifted against the Democrats once people realized that the proposed anti-gun measures 1) would not prevent future mass-murders and 2) avoided dealing seriously with mental-health issues that seem to be much more connected to spree killings than guns are. The second reason why the Republicans prevailed was that, contra the Dem/moderate conventional wisdom, they stuck to their principles and didn’t concede on apparently marginal points. The Republicans wanted to win, were not eager for a deal and were willing to fight. That is a winning political position and the Democrats knew it.
So why don’t the Republicans apply the same principled, fighting attitude that defeated gun bans to other important issues such as federal spending, Obamacare and immigration?