The Excitable Chuck Todd

Mickey Kaus Columnist
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Unlike his predecessor as host of Meet the Press, Chuck Todd is an approachable, un-phony presence. He knows politics and clearly enjoys politics. But, boy, is he excitable, especially on the subject of  immigration, where he often lets the drama of the moment cloud his judgment. [You need three examples-ed. Got em.]

1. It’s November 7, 2012. Romney has just lost the presidency, something many analysts immediately blame on his poor showing among Latinos. The Beltway mind instantly draws but one conclusion: Republicans need to assuage Latinos by legalizing illegal immigrants, stat. Obama’s ‘immigration reform,’ Todd says, will get “80 to 90 votes in the Senate. … Republicans will run, not walk, in trying to support that now.”  In the event, the Senate “immigration reform” bill got 68 votes. Two thirds of Republican Senators voted against it. 

2. After Eric Cantor lost his House seat in the Republican primary — to an opponent who attacked Cantor as soft on “amnesty” for immigrants — Todd flips and declares that Cantor’s defeat

means immigration reform during the rest of the Obama presidency, the idea that it’s gonna happen, is dead. It is not going to happen in 2016. [E.A.]

So far so good on this prediction, at least  if Todd’s talking about legislation. But allies of House Speaker Boehner are already arguing for some sort of immigration bill in 2015.  Boehner himself seems to want to use an initial “border security” effort to soften up conservatives for compromise. It’s crazy to pronounce the effort “dead.”

3. After the sweeping Republican victories in the midterms, with opposition to “amnesty” again one of the top issues, Todd immediately concludes that Obama’s threatened executive actions on immigration are also dead.

[P]olitically, tonight, it put an end to it. … It would be a provocative act, politically.

Todd seemed probably wrong at the time, given the president’s previous statements. Obama announced his executive action on immigration 16 days later.

[Larger lesson here?-ed.] Is there a larger lesson here? Is Todd the new Andrew Sullivan in terms of excitability? No. Todd won’t be that excitable even if he starts injecting himself with testosterone hourly. More likely his bipolar pronouncements on amnesty reflect, first, the prevailing Washington assumption that amnesty is both inevitable and inarguably desirable. When voters decide it’s neither, Todd is then so shocked (and perhaps, as a politics junkie, so instinctively respectful of democracy) that he swings to the other extreme and assumes it’s dead, dead, dead.

But the coalition of business lobbyists and ethnic pressure groups behind “immigration reform” has no reason to be respectful of democracy. They have money to make, if they can sneak or muscle something through, and money to throw around to make it happen. Which is why “comprehensive immigration reform” is famously a “zombie” issue that can’t be definitively pronounced dead. Todd should know that.

Mickey Kaus