Yesteday, in a post called “Waiting for Lefty,” I noted the complaint of some Republican Senators that President Obama hasn’t reached out to them to talk compromise on the big issues of the day. My take was that Obama isn’t calling them because he isn’t interested in compromises on the big issues of the day. His focus, instead, is on positioning Democrats to retake control of the House (while holding the Senate) in 2014. After that, he won’t need to compromise much.
The one area of exception, I said, was immigration reform. Here, Obama seeks Republican cooperation in passing a law that will eventually bring citizenship to ten million illegal aliens or more. I also noted that on this issue, key Republicans are already talking with key Democrats, though not with Obama directly.
As of today, though, Obama is talking directly with Republicans about immigration reform. He called Marco Rubio, who is in the Middle East, to discuss the subject. He also talked to Rubio’s fellow immigration compromisers, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, and he reportedly plans to talk to Jeff Flake, as well.
As I’ve said for some time (e.g, in this post from late January), Obama and Rubio are engaged in a shamelessly transparent “good cop, bad cop” routine. When Obama blusters on about proposing his own legislation, he is playing the bad cop. He thus enables Rubio to try to con Rush Limbaugh and other conservatives by portraying himself as the good cop. Heather Mac Donald has more on how this farce is playing out.
But Obama isn’t willing to play the “bad cop” in public to a general audience. That is why, in his State of the Union speech, he made no mention of proposing his own immigration reform legislation, but rather signaled that he would sign the bill Rubio is working towards. Of course he will; there’s little difference between the two approaches, as Mac Donald shows.
In reality, Obama will sign anything that creates a path to citizenship for millions and millions of future Democratic voters. And in reality, sadly, he is not working at cross-purposes with Rubio/McCain/Graham. Obama’s outreach to Rubio, McCain, and Graham only confirms these realities.