You can think of John Boehner’s refusal to vote on “immigration reform” in two ways. One is that he’s looked out the window and seen too many peons with pitchforks at the ready to risk it. The second scenario, as outlined by Greg Sargent of the Washington Post, is that Boehner is just buying time so he can look good before bowing to the inevitable. He writes:

Frank Sharry, the head of the pro-immigrant America’s Voice, sketched out one scenario that could be awaiting Republicans if they decide not to act now.

In 2015, Obama could come under withering pressure from immigration groups to take executive action on behalf of some of the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently here. Such a move wouldn’t be about granting citizenship; it could be an expansion of the executive action he took in 2012 — temporarily deferring the deportation of DREAMers — to other classes of the 11 million. There are reasons to think this would be legally hard to do, but expanding it at least to some degree is theoretically possible. Advocates believe he’d have little choice but to try to do something like this next year if reform fails again.

“He’ll come under withering pressure to act,” Sharry tells me. “And of course [emphasis Sargent] he’ll move by executive action. He doesn’t want his legacy to reflect the fact that he deported more people than any other president. He’ll have no choice.”

If that happens, Sharry continues, you could hear some on the right begin to agitate for impeachment — just as the GOP presidential primary is getting underway.

“If he hasn’t acted earlier, Obama could roll a hand-grenade into the middle of the Republican Primary,” Sharry said, adding that even if impeachment chatter is confined to the margins, it will make legislative action by Republicans on the issue all but impossible: “They will have squandered their shot at getting right with Latinos and Asian Americans for a generation.” …

“Republicans are not in the catbird seat on immigration,” Sharry concluded. “They’re in front of a firing squad.”

If that sounds like a threat, well maybe it is.

While there’s no reason to doubt the spinelessness of the institutional GOP, timidity is a sword that cuts two ways. The question to ask about people who scare is who they fear more: the peons with the pitchforks or the other mob tootling the El Degüello? How does one quantify this fear?

One way is to observe that fear has momentarily overcome that strongest of political emotions, greed. Peter Schweizer, the author of Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets, accused Boehner of running a pay-to-play racket in the House. Tony Lee at Breitbart summarizes the main points:

In Extortion, Schweizer makes the argument that lawmakers in Washington use their positions of power to extort money from individuals and corporations to subsidize their lavish lifestyles. As was profiled on 60 Minutes, he discovered how lawmakers are legally allowed to use their “leadership PACs” as slush funds. He also revealed details about House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) “tollbooths” in which corporations must donate large sums of money to get legislation moved. He has also revealed never-before-seen top secret “price lists” for committee assignments in Congress.

In response to the book, a Boehner spokesman said Schweizer should “probably read ‘Congress for Dummies’ before he starts making bogus and salacious claims to sell books.”

But this time it didn’t work, at least for now.

The level of electoral fear experienced by the “lawmakers” has just exceeded their attraction to the tollbooths. And this has got those who had counted on a done deal all hot and bothered. The scenario now being bruited by Sargent is terrifying indeed. But is it terrifying enough?

It has long been conventional wisdom that nothing could withstand the amnesty juggernaut, jointly driven by the demands of business for low paid wage labor and the Democratic Party’s desire for votes. With these twin pythons squeezing the House, immigration was a done deal, or at least that was the perception; an attitude that emboldened the president to no end. Just today the Daily Caller reported a new administration exemption which would allow the admission of immigrants who have only provided “limited material support” to terrorism:

The Obama administration has issued new exemptions to a law that bars certain asylum-seekers and refugees who provided “limited material support” to terrorists who are believed to pose no threat from the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security and the State Department published the new exemptions Wednesday in the Federal Register to narrow a ban in the Immigration and Nationality Act excluding refugees and asylum seekers who had provided limited material support, no matter how minor, to terrorists.

And if nothing proclaims the death of the 9/11 consensus as much as Obama’s executive exemptions for limited terrorists then nothing announces his determination to get what he wants more than the phrase: ‘I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone’. That was how journalists, some almost admiringly, put president Obama vow to get his way no matter what. “‘We’re not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help they need. I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone,’ Obama said Tuesday as he convened his first Cabinet meeting of the year”, said ABC News.

It almost recalls the lines of Pete Seeger.

If I had a phone
I’d phone them in in the morning.
I’d phone them in in the evening
All over this land.
Well I’ve got a pen.
And I’ve got a phone.
And I’ve an order to sign, all over this land.
I’ll phone Holder at Justice.
I’ll phone them at Jour-na-lists
I’ll phone them about Obamacare and more immigration
All over this land.

But astonishingly, like a body invisible to the naked eye but which exerts its influence by gravitation, something has pulled the planet Boehner out of orbit. Maybe other people also have pens and also have phones. The little particles of dirt, so reviled and deprecated by the media as to be discounted have gathered undetected, all over this land. One thing that must be remembered about crossing any border is that the resistance goes both ways.

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