Asked by the host whether he’d take action on gun violence, Biden offered the verbal equivalent of a shrug.
There is no part of me that wants my president to appear on late night television. At the same time, presidential appearances in absurd places can lead to some wildly illuminating remarks. Take President Biden’s appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Wednesday night, where he admitted he’s not issuing executive orders on gun violence as part of some weird, bipartisan posturing.
On Wednesday, Biden appeared on Kimmel’s show for about 20 minutes. It’s unsurprising that Kimmel took the time with the president to invoke mass shootings. He introduced Biden as “the reason we all got a cavity search tonight” and then, several minutes into the interview, asked Biden about having “every senator” sit with families of mass shooting victims.
“Here’s what has to happen … You’ve got to make sure that this becomes a voting issue,” Biden told Kimmel. “It’s gotta be one of those issues where you decide your position on the issue [as a] senator or candidate for House or Senate on what we’re gonna do with assault weapons. … I mean, what you say on those things is gonna determine how I’m gonna vote for you. It should be one of those issues.”
If you’ve listened to Biden speak before, his bringing up voting was expected. After last month’s Supreme Court leak indicating the justices will overturn the federal right to access abortion, Biden said in a statement, “If the Court does overturn Roe, it will fall on our nation’s elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman’s right to choose. And it will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November.”
Switching the onus onto voters is Biden’s go-to — nevermind the fact that he’s literally president. Or that his Democratic Party controls the House. And the Senate. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, Kimmel at one point asked Biden why he hadn’t taken any action through an executive order, stating, “Trump passed those out like Halloween candy.”
In response, Biden said he’s issued executive orders “within the power of the presidency” regarding gun ownership. But, Biden said, “What I don’t wanna do — and I’m not being facetious — I don’t wanna emulate Trump’s abuse of the Constitution and constitutional authority.”
He added: “And I mean that sincerely because I often get asked, ‘Look, the Republicans don’t play it square. Why do you play it square?’ Well, guess what? If we do the same thing they do, our democracy will literally be in jeopardy.”
Now sure, Biden doesn’t need to hand out executive orders like Trump did. And yes, Biden behaving like Trump would be a nightmare. However, it’s weird that Biden hears a question about gun control and automatically goes to the extreme. There’s a lot of middle ground between taking literally any action and abusing his constitutional authority.
Plus, Biden’s claims that he’s done all he can regarding gun control are suspect. While the Uvalde shooting prompted Biden to pressure Congress to ban assault weapons, he was called out by Parkland families for his inaction on gun control earlier this year. As Mic previously reported, while Biden has taken some concrete action, “those accomplishments, however, are a far cry from his campaign rhetoric on more far-reaching, dramatic proposals, such as expanded background checks and banning assault-style weapons.”
But honestly? I’m more frustrated by Democrats’ obsession with taking a moral high ground when it comes to Republicans than anything else. It’s part of why they’re so useless. Democrats are so busy pretending that they’re protecting American democracy through their relative inaction that the rest of us are getting continually screwed.