Michael Barone: Obama can't abide views he doesn't share

BY MICHAEL BARONE Published: January 19, 2013

As defense secretary, Hagel seems likely to cut military personnel and capabilities. There's undoubtedly some detritus that can be swept away. But his nomination seems less aimed at managing the military than tormenting the Republicans.

Then there is gun control. Some recent media polls show majority support for further restrictions on guns. If you phrase the question the right way, you tend to get that kind of response, especially after a horrifying crime like Newtown.

But new restrictions are unlikely to have any significant practical effect. The ban on assault weapons — a category defined mostly by cosmetics — certainly had none in the 10 years it was in effect.

Compromises needed

Strict state gun control laws did not stop the carnage in Newtown or the frequent killings on the streets of Chicago. The push for gun control is more a symbolic gesture than a serious attempt at governing.

Something better can be said about Obama's call for immigration law changes. The need for some change is clear. That was also true in Obama's first two years, when he did nothing to advance legislation on the subject when Democrats had a solid majorities in Congress.

The question is whether Obama wants legislation or to stick it to the opposition. Many Republicans, like Sen. Marco Rubio, are ready to support legalization of those brought here as children but not immediate legalization for all 11 million illegals.

Negotiations and compromises will be needed to get a bill through Congress. A president interested in governing would not insist on getting his way 100 percent. Whether Obama is such a president is far from clear.

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