Cherchez la Bush: Why are Speaker Boehner and other Republican leaders so relentless in continuing to pursue an immigration amnesty deal during Obama’s presidency? The well will not be poisoned for them. Even after Obama went around them — brutally dissed them — with his executive amnesty, they persist in dropping loud hints (here’s the latest) that they’re open to a big immigration compromise. Put up a for-show fight against Obama’s executive action for now, throw in a bogus border-security bill, and maybe later in the year they can push something through with Democratic support (the way Boehner recently pushed through the “Cromnibus”). They’re not going to let a little unconstitutional Caesarist power grab stop them.
It’s a bit of a mystery. Sure, Republican business interests want a supply of inexpensive labor, Republican strategists want a bigger share of the Latino vote. But that doesn’t quite explain it. After all, the lopsided 2014 election suggests that, with a few tweaks, Republicans don’t really need a sweeping immigration deal to win in the electoral college. Business lobbyists could be placated with some more “guest workers.” Put that extra dollop of cheap labor together with Obama’s “prosecutorial discretion” (for existing illegal immigrants) and you’ve in effect cobbled together a half-assed “comprehensive” bill, minus the enforcement part (even better for business!). Why don’t Boehner and McCarthy discreetly shoot for that?
A thought: Maybe it’s all about Jeb. Jeb Bush is the one presidential candidate who’s based his strategy on what can only be described as a lovefest between him and the Latino electorate.** The Jeb Effect would explain the relentlessness: I’ve learned to never underestimate the power of the Bush family to produce semi-vicious robotic loyalty among the GOP elite. Why wouldn’t that include the congressional elite?
If that’s true — if it’s really about Jeb’s presidential run — then the push for a big immigration deal will continue in the current Congress as long as Bush’s election remains a live possibility. Which makes defeating Jeb in the Republican primaries — and defeating him early — a priority for all opponents of “amnesty first” immigration reform. Beat Jeb and you remove the equivalent of the sex drive powering the relentless amnesty push.
** –Marco Rubio, who’d be the first Latino President, can afford to weasel and trim (‘thread the needle’) on immigration. Jeb needs an act of love.
Thom Riehle: When I started this blog I was favored with secret contributions from a handful of people. One of the most important was “Mystery Pollster,” now known to all as Mark Blumenthal. Another was Thom Riehle, a pollster I’d never met who started sending me very informative and pointed comments on the various controversies of the day. Sometimes I printed them verbatim, since they couldn’t be improved on by me (see the contribution from “kf emailer Y” — i.e. Riehle– on this page.) Later I got to know him as a warm, sophisticated human being and not just a mysterious electronic angel. A big part of the grim news of the last week, for me, was learning that Thom Riehle had died, suddenly, over the weekend. National Journal‘s Charlie Cook has a tribute here. I will always owe him and will not forget.