The Manchin-Toomey Gang

In other Beltway Gangland news, we are informed this morning that the fate of gun legislation may lie in the hands of Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of WV, who boasts an “A” rating from the NRA, and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, the former Club for Growth president who manages to get himself labeled regularly as a “pragmatist” by DC typologists of the post-modern relativist school.

It’s unclear whether this duo from Deer Hunter country is now acting as surrogates for the two parties. The White House and Harry Reid haven’t totally moved to a “anything is better than nothing” position, but they are close to it. But the impending conservative filibuster, to be led by Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, seems to be based on the proposition that the Second Amendment, unlike any other, is absolute in its application. Even with Pat Toomey on board a “compromise,” it’s likely Paul and company will find some provision that portends the mass confiscation of firearms and a socialist dictatorship. And the NRA itself, under intense pressure from more radical gun rights groups, and lashed along by the increasingly unhinged rhetoric of Wayne Lapierre, might have a hard time backing down from a “just say no” position.

If this latest “gang” is indeed, so to speak, outgunned, then all it will accomplish is to move the gun debate in Congress a few notches to the right, and give Manchin and Toomey a talking point for their next re-election campaigns.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.