White House Notes That They're Running the Immigration Bill Behind the Scenes

This is an interesting moment for Barack Obama to allow, admit, or put out there that he’s really running the Gang’s immigration bill behind the scenes. Lindsey Graham is triumphant! that it’ll pass with more than 70 votes. Republican elected resistance to it seems to be crumbling, even though the base is getting angrier and angrier about it. The Democrats have publicly kept Obama on the sidelines, because his public involvement would drive Republican support away.


Yet here he is, saying in effect, “Yeah I’ve been on the sidelines. As the head coach and general manager.” Think Jerry Jones, only worse.

The White House is playing a larger role in developing the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill than its supporters publicly admit, according to a forthcoming article in The New Yorker.

“‘No decisions are being made without talking to us about it,’ the official said of the Gang of Eight negotiations … ‘This does not fly if we’re not O.K. with it,’” a senior Obama official told author Ryan Lizza for the pending article.

White House officials also believe the emerging bill will be a huge success for President Barack Obama.

Of course it will. It will make the perfect bookend to ObamaCare as a policy that fundamentally changes the United States. But why is Obama coming out now to claim control of the bill?

Momentum seems to be building to pass it. The question at the moment is whether the Democrats have the GOP opposition in check or checkmate on this bill. Obama’s stepping in now to crow about controlling the bill forces Republicans to choose. They ought to kill this bill on principle, but asking the current crop of Republican leaders to do anything on principle asks too much of them. They narrowly lost last the presidential election last year and have had the vapors about it ever since. They’re internalizing Democrat attack talking points about Republicans rather than coolly analyzing what went wrong and how it might be turned right next time. They’re ready to jettison principle in order to hold onto power. That will earn them neither one in the end, if there is any justice left in this world.


Obama either wants no bill to pass, or he wants a bill to pass that will, in the words of Bill Maher, create more Democrats, as the current bill does. If no bill passes, Obama pins that on Republicans to demagogue his way into the 2014 mid-terms. If a bill passes, James Pethokoukis’ shoddy math notwithstanding, Democrats move toward a generational majority.


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