Once again we must witness the astonishing power of the NRA...

As Harold Pollack explained at Wonkblog a couple of weeks ago, [Vivek] Murthy [Obama’s nominee for surgeon general] is widely respected as a physician, a public health expert and an all-around good guy. And like many doctors, he has decried the toll guns take on public health, with around 30,000 gun deaths and 80,000 nonfatal gun injuries in America every year. For that, Murthy must be made an example of.

Some red-state Democratic senators are saying they’ll oppose Murthy’s nomination, which has all but doomed it, and the White House is backing off its push to get him confirmed. My guess is that, within a few weeks, Murthy will be persuaded to withdraw his nomination with some regretful words about getting past the controversy, saving the White House any more trouble.

The stunning thing is Murthy's views about guns are not outside of the mainstream. He advocates a ban on assault weapons, controls on ammunition sales, and mandatory safety training. And besides, he would have no power to enforce these common views as surgeon general. And so all of the other real benefits that would come with Murthy's nomination are going to be sacrificed for something that is very small and politically empty.

More stunning yet, the gun lobby is not backed by serious economic power; the gun industry is tiny (estimated economic impact is $31.8 billion) when compared to, say, the car industry (sales in 2012 alone were estimated at $564 billion). But NRA's political power clearly dwarfs its economic power. How is this possible?