Reporter Mark Landler, a big fan of President Obama, tried mightily to spin Obama's defeat on gun control into a victory in his "White House Memo" "A Setback Met by Anger, Another by Resolve," in Friday's New York Times.
For President Obama, this week delivered a painful double blow, with the Senate defeating his emotional campaign to pass tougher gun legislation and a pair of crude bombs at the Boston Marathon bringing terrorism back to American soil.
It was more painful to the victims of the blast in Boston, but Landler focused solely on how it made the president feel for the Senate to refuse to "break from the past on gun laws."
But Mr. Obama responded very differently to the setbacks -- a difference that speaks to a conviction at the White House that the nation’s counterterrorism policies are still basically sound, while the nation’s gun laws are demonstrably not.
On Wednesday in the Rose Garden, flanked by parents who lost children in the December rampage in Newtown, Conn., Mr. Obama seemed at a loss to understand why the Senate did not break from the past on gun laws, departing from his text to deliver a lecture that was by turns angry, sarcastic and sorrowful.
The next day, standing in the sanctuary of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, the president delivered a tightly written paean to the city’s resilience, serving notice with his almost-jaunty greeting -- “Hello Boston!” -- that he was there as much to fight as to grieve.
Landler cynically --and incredibly unconvincingly -- tried to paint the Boston bombings as an opportunity for Obama on the war on terror.
For President Bill Clinton, the Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995 helped him reclaim the mantle of leadership after a dispiriting period in which the Democrats were trounced in midterm elections and Mr. Clinton had seemed almost marginalized by House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
The Boston bombings could allow Mr. Obama to achieve a different goal: moving the country’s response to acts of terrorism away from the sense of national crisis that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to a narrower focus on effective law enforcement.
For Mr. Obama, the loss is especially stinging because it came after the national revulsion at the schoolhouse slaughter in Newtown raised hopes for a once-in-a-generation change. Devastated personally, the president pledged at a memorial service to use “whatever power this office holds” to turn the tide on gun regulations.
Four months later to the day after the service, Mr. Obama stood in the Rose Garden, asking how senators could vote against a measure that was supported by 90 percent of the public. “There were no coherent arguments as to why we wouldn’t do this,” he said. “It came down to politics.” Aides said it was the angriest they had ever seen Mr. Obama in public.
Landler let Obama's handlers whisper hope into his ear.
For some in the White House, the president’s remarks in the Rose Garden recalled a rousing speech he gave after unexpectedly losing the New Hampshire primary to Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2008. A deeply demoralizing moment was turned into a rallying cry.
But this week has evoked even more distant memories. The arrest of a man for sending a letter to the president that was believed to be contaminated by ricin carried unwelcome echoes of the anthrax-laced letters that were delivered to two Democratic senators in the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Landler left out that a Republican senator also received a ricin letter this week – it's not just Democrats that have been targeted.