With Congress back in Washington this week, all eyes on are the gun debate. And, specifically, what President Donald Trump wants to do – and can convince Republicans in Congress to do – on guns in the wake of the murders of 17 people in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, less than two weeks ago.
What’s clear is that Trump wants to do something. “PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP is extremely eager for legislative action on guns, and has pushed lawmakers he has spoken to for a vote in the House this week,” wrote Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman in Monday’s Politico Playbook.
What’s also clear is that Trump isn’t big on the whole specifics thing. Two quotes from the weekend make that very clear.
The first came Saturday night when Trump called into Jeanine Pirro’s Fox News show. Here’s what he said on the future of gun policy:
“I think we’re going to have a great bill put forward, very soon, having to do with background checks, having to do with getting rid of certain things, and keeping other things, and perhaps we’ll do something on age.”
Ahem. So, we need get rid of “certain things” and keep “other things” while also, “perhaps,” doing “something on age.”
Then, on Sunday night, Trump addressed the the Governor’s Ball – an annual gathering of a number of the country’s top state executives – and again offered some thoughts on the next steps on guns.
“I think we’ll make that first on our list, because we have to end our country of what’s happening with respect to that subject,” Trump said. “So we’ll be talking about that and many other things.”
So, we will be “talking” about gun policy and “many other things.”
Again: Got it!
Remember, too, that neither of the quotes I cited above were off-the-cuff remarks by Trump. He knew he would be asked about guns in his Pirro interview. And the speech at the Governor’s Ball was pre-written. This was not a circumstance in which Trump was somehow caught off guard and scrambled for something to say.
No, this is a case in which Trump is just very, very loose on any details. On gun policy, like on so many other policies, Trump simply isn’t engaged – and is never likely to get engaged – on the “what” and “how” aspects of the debate.
Trump likes making deals. He likes being the closer. He likes winning, wracking up accomplishments that allow him to make claims like he accomplished more in his first year in office than any president ever.
Think back to the Trump’s vice presidential selection process. According to The New York Times’ Robert Draper, Don Jr. approached Ohio Gov. John Kasich about the job – telling him he could run domestic and foreign policy for the White House.
The President’s job? “Making America great again,” according to Don Jr. (Worth noting: The White House and Jr. deny this account.)
That is a fundamental insight into how Trump conceives of the presidency. He’s not the guy to get into the nitty-gritty of what a deal on guns looks like. He has some ideas, sure. But those ideas change depending on who he talks to.
The deal – or the “win” – is the thing. Details are for the eggheads to figure out.