This rather loose chronology might be mistaken, but as I recall it was sometime during W.'s monstrous reign that Dana Milbank decided his unremitting anti-Bushism, no matter how unremittingly compelled, might forever typecast him as a "liberal" journalist and thus reduce his cynical credibility. So on occasion--rare, but regularly rare--Milbank would grasp for something, anything, nice to say about the Bush administration, while impishly ridiculing the aggrieved, liberal minority.
Hence with cynicism roughly intact, Milbank could further market himself as a noble slayer of all Beltway preposterousness, be it to the left or right, and thereby gain more readers and appear on more cable outlets. It's one of the commentariat's older strategic games of an even deeper cynicism: intentionally piss off both sides, in whatever cheaply opportunistic ways possible, so that the commentator might also claim the mantle of intellectual integrity.
It's a neat trick, one intimately related to the pedigree of forced journalistic "balance." And though wickedly cynical it may be--indeed, maybe because of its intrinsic cynicism--it is often right. QED, Milbank's observation today that "the White House seems determined to slow-walk the gun issue."
All the usual suspects are present: a presidential press secretary performing the vaguest of action-figure evasions; a leading Senate Democrat (in very unlikely isolation) delaying the introduction of remedial legislation until the new Congress; her majority leader closely echoing the WH's phraseology, i.e., "in the coming days and weeks."
And Milbank is wrenchingly correct: "if you believe the current national mood will be the same in the coming weeks, you’ve got another thing coming."
I'm sure the WH's calculation is that Congress cannot chew fiscal gum and walk a coherent gun-bill line at the same time--and that calculation is almost certainly as correct as Milbank's cynicism. But next year, after the next mass slaughter, the debt ceiling will begin caving in, and then, after some temporary shoring up, yet another mass slaughter will occur, just before, say, the Iranian situation explodes, and so on. And so on. And so on.
Cynicism is always a good gamble.