Power grab talking points
It would seem that every Republican from the goofiest tea partier to presidential hopefuls are handwringing over the "presidential power grab." Even VSP Paul Ryan called the administration an "increasingly lawless presidency" yesterday. They seem to be working themselves into a frenzy.
Why? Well, it could be the beginning of an impeachment campaign. They are that nuts. But they would have to do it without the years long investigation that preceded the Clinton impeachment or the scandals that preceded the vote to impeach Nixon in the House judiciary committee. They are a long way from that although they are just looney enough to try to do it anyway. (They certainly may not see a political downside since the last time they pulled this nonsense, the next election was close enough they were able to steal the presidency.)
But I doubt they'll be able to get it together enough to do this. What they are definitely doing is riling up their rubes and playing the refs --- trying to get the press to conflate the president using executive power to enforce regulations with using it to circumvent the Bill of Rights. And from what I can see, it's working a bit. Which, if history is any guide, means the administration will probably back way off. On the regulations anyway.
Greg Sargent has a piece up this morning about just how committed the Republicans remain to their new faith-based organizing principle: that Obamacare is on the verge of failing and they must do nothing to distract from that. And that may very well mean no compromise on immigration which could cause a tear in the wingnut matrix.
The unknown is whether GOP leaders will ultimately decide that embracing some form of legalization, or “probation” — before onerous security metrics are met — is too hard, given the politics inside the House GOP caucus. This is the context for understanding the real meaning of the “Obama can’t be trusted” talking point.
Either Ryan knows he must say this to get mainstream conservatives to even listen to him about immigration — it’s a way to reassure them of his best intentions even as GOP leaders seriously grapple with how to get to some form of legalization. (Byron York floats a version of this theory here.) Or, if Republicans decide they can’t get to that point, it will become the excuse for killing reform: Obama can’t be trusted to enforce the law – executive orders Obamacare Benghazi etc. etc. — so we can’t embrace any form of legalization, until all of our security metrics are met.
The simple truth is that we just don’t know where Republicans really are on this yet.
I will be very surprised if they are willing to enact immigration reform going into 2014. They have visions of taking the Senate and expanding their majority in the House and I doubt they want to do anything to upset their base right now. And that's because whether they like it or not, this is who they are:
“Part of it, I think — and I hate to say this, because these are my people — but I hate to say it, but it’s racial,” said the Southern Republican lawmaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “If you go to town halls people say things like, ‘These people have different cultural customs than we do.’ And that’s code for race.”
I wouldn't put it past these people to take a win in 2014 as a mandate for impeachment. But it's unlikely. But, in my opinion, it's also unlikely they are at the point in their evolution where they can tolerate a compromise on something like immigration reform. They are still deep in the throes of their political primal scream and I see little evidence they are snapping out of it. I just hope the Democrats don't misjudge this moment and think they can safely finesse this by frontloading all the "security" and leaving the rest of it for another day. That will be a monumental failure. I assume they know that. Right?