A rare post-presidential toe-dip into politics by Dubya, who’s careful not to endorse any specific policies but whose track record on immigration makes his preferences clear enough. (Rubio’s Gang of Eight bill has lots of similarities, on the citizenship side at least, with the doomed Kennedy/McCain bill that Bush backed during his second term.) I think the setting’s more interesting than his perfectly innocuous remarks, actually. He spoke about this at a naturalization ceremony for new citizens, who diligently followed current U.S. law despite all the bureaucratic ball-and-chains cinched to them, to earn their right to vote. I wonder how they feel about a mass amnesty for people who weren’t as diligent.

I also wonder if Bush spoke up here because he wanted to or because GOP leaders finally saw an issue where he could be more helpful to them than harmful and nudged him to say something. One way to shake loose Republican fencesitters in the House is to give them as much cover as possible from prominent national GOPers. Whatever else is left of Bush’s legacy, he famously did considerably better with Latinos than Romney did. (Whether that was because of his support for immigration reform or because of his “compassionate conservative” pedigree and post-9/11 hawkishness is another question.) And of course, because the media’s happy to shill for anyone right-of-center who’s willing to help them with immigration, the Bushitler will now transform for a few days, at least, into the wise elder statesman who’s trying to steer his party away from ruin. That’s especially useful to them, in fact, because at the moment presidential leadership on this issue is necessarily lacking. If you’re a centrist House Republican, it’s got to count for a little something, no?

Nope, says Politico, in an enjoyably grumpy piece that pronounces reform all but dead in the House:

Republicans walked away from their 2012 debacle hell-bent on fixing their problems with Hispanics. Now, they appear hell-bent on making them worse.

In private conversations, top Republicans on Capitol Hill now predict comprehensive immigration reform will die a slow, months-long death in the House. Like with background checks for gun buyers, the conventional wisdom that the party would never kill immigration reform, and risk further alienating Hispanic voters, was always wrong — and ignored the reality that most House Republicans are white conservatives representing mostly white districts…

It’s possible Republicans will change their minds, listen to Rubio and Paul Ryan, and ultimately agree to something Democrats could live with. But, even if they do, the weeks ahead will show they did it kicking and screaming, undermining much of the credit they might have gotten from Hispanic voters.

This drives the Rubio and Roves of the world nuts

So even passing the Gang of Eight bill won’t help much if Republicans don’t do it with a smile? The bar for liberal concern-trolling on this issue rises every day.

Politico’s wrong, of course. Immigration reform isn’t really dead until the House passes its own bill and something new comes back from the conference committee with the Senate. That’s when we’ll know if Boehner — and Cantor — are telling the truth when they say nothing will reach the floor unless a majority of Republicans support it. And like I said Monday, the only reason to believe that they’re on the level is Boehner’s interest in retaining his Speakership. If he decides that pressure from a thousand big-name Republicans and the prospect of riding off into a lucrative lobbyist sunset are worth more to him at this point than presiding over a conservative caucus with which he’s not really in sync, he can bring the conference bill to the floor, pass it with 30 GOP votes, and then float away on his own Bushian cloud of Strange New Respect from the press. How lucky do you feel?

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