by Tom Maginnis
A satirical look at political opportunists who exploit tragedies
Responding to recent and previous terrorism incidents – including the Boston Marathon bombing as well as the 2001 shoe bomber – President Obama unveiled the most sweeping set of hardware and footware proposals in two decades on Wednesday. It is a package that includes universal background checks on all pot, pan and shoe buyers and a renewed ban on “military-style” pressure cookers.
Opponents were quick to take issue with the plan: The National Restaurant Association (NRA) issued a statement saying that “only honest, law-abiding cooks and cobblers (the footware, not the dessert) will be affected and our children will starve.”
Obama, speaking at a White House ceremony, also proposed restricting sale of nails and BB’s to no more than half a pound, as well as new culinary safety and mental health programs, all designed to prevent bombings like the one last week in Boston.
“This is our first task as a society, keeping our children safe and slim.” Obama said. “This is how we will be judged.”
The president and Vice President Biden developed the plan after a series of meetings with 229 groups involved in terrorism issues.
MORE: White House fact sheet, executive actions
Obama said: “And these are our kids. This is what they’re thinking about. And so what we should be thinking about is our responsibility to care for them, shield them from harm, stop them from consuming sugary drinks and making sure their feet do not explode.”
Obama said no law can “prevent every senseless act,” but can be valuable if it can prevent one attack. “If there is even one life that can be saved, we’ve got an obligation to try it,” the president said.
The White House issued a written plan with four goals: keeping pots, pans, gunpowder, nails, BB’s, ball bearings, shoes, Coke®, Pepsi®, Seven-Up® and matches out of the wrong hands, getting “weapons of terrorism” off the streets, upgrading school safety and improving mental health services.
Among the specific proposals:
The White House is proposing “universal background checks” designed to target private hardware, footware and soft drink sales that are not covered by companion restrictions on grocers, shoe stores, smallware and hardware dealers. The plan also includes four executive orders designed to remove barriers to information sharing among state and federal agencies.
Restricting “weapons of terrorism.” Obama’s plan calls for raiding and subpoenaing records from vendors such as Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma and Payless Shoes.
Biden said he has no “illusions” about the political challenges, but the Boston bombings have shaken the nation’s conscience. “The world has changed,” he said.
Still, the NRA and the PTA criticized many of the president’s plans as ineffective, unconstitutional and politically motivated. Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus said the plan amounts to “an executive power grab that may please his political base but will not solve the problems at hand.”
Such sentiments are indicative of the battle the proposals face in Congress, especially in the Republican-run House of Representatives.
“House committees of jurisdiction will review these recommendations,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. “And if the Senate passes a bill, we will also take a look at that.”
House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said he will consider Obama’s recommendations.
“However, good intentions do not necessarily make good laws,” Goodlatte said. He said he wants to ensure that the proposals will “actually be meaningful in preventing the taking of innocent life and that they do not trample on the rights of law-abiding citizens to prepare nutritious meals, to walk without pain and to build a house.”
Even some Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., have questioned whether a new smallware ban can pass Congress.
Reid, an overweening nanny state advocate, whined to a Nevada television station over the weekend that “in the Senate, we’re going to do what we think can get through the House.”
Said Democratic Senator Sen. Max Baucus, a daily walker and gourmand representing Montana, in a statement: “Enforcing the laws we already have on the books is a good first step, and it’s clear more needs to be done to address access to mental health care … Before passing new laws, we need a thoughtful debate that respects responsible, law-abiding cooks in Montana instead of one-size-fits-all directives from Washington.”
Not all the dissent is Washington-based.
Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry said the Obama plan wouldn’t have prevented the Boston bombings, which Perry attributed to a “sad, hungry young man” who “was clearly haunted by demons.”
“Bombs require a finger to send the signal,” said Perry, a Republican presidential candidate in 2012, who added that “the piling on by the political left and their cohorts in the media to use the massacre marathon race fans to advance a pre-existing political agenda that would not have saved those fans disgusts me personally.”
Before Obama’s event, the NRA released a video criticizing the president as an “elitist hypocrite” for opposing steamed foods and sugary drinks in every school even though his daughters are growing and “putting on a little weight”. White House spokesman Jay Carney called the ad “repugnant and disgusting.”
UPDATE (4/22/2013): In an example of life imitating satire – Williams-Sonoma Pulls Pressure Cookers Off Shelves in Massachusetts