I’m officially nervous but I’m not sure why. Boehner’s been doing this two-step, talking up immigration reform to reassure amnesty fans that it’s on his radar and then downplaying it to reassure conservatives, for years now. Maybe it’s the fact that he and The One huddled about it in a private White House meeting? Sounds important! Whether it really was or not.

Maybe they were merely sharing a laugh over Pelosi’s “discharge petition” idea, a cheap and easy way to make it look to amnesty supporters like Democrats are driving a hard bargain before they inevitably end up voting for whatever Boehner brings to the floor.

At his weekly news conference today, Boehner was asked what he and the president agreed on the most.

“Immigration,” Boehner said. “We had a very healthy conversation on immigration.”

When asked to elaborate, Boehner gave a long pause and finally said: “You asked a question and I gave you the answer.”…

Boehner could have taken the easy way out of the question by saying that he and the president agreed on supporting the troops, or something similarly general. But he decided to say immigration. And inside the Beltway, one word often speaks volumes.

Relatedly, here’s something I read a few days ago about why so many establishment Republicans wanted Jan Brewer to veto Arizona’s religious freedom bill:

If Brewer signs the legislation, the major concern of party strategists is that opponents would launch an effort to overturn it. A referendum in November would allow the debate about whether denying services to gays is discriminatory to simmer through November, drawing global attention and increasing turnout among younger, liberal voters.

No speedbumps before the midterms. That’s the argument that’s been deployed every time the congressional GOP faces a thorny issue, like the latest debt-ceiling hike. We’re on a glide path to taking back the Senate thanks to ObamaCare’s endless pratfalls, the theory goes. Why on earth would the party jeopardize that by taking a stand on anything contentious right now? You’ll hear that logic again and again from the leadership over the next eight months — except on one issue. Can you guess what it is?

Meanwhile, behold the latest numbers from Pew on immigration reform. See now why the GOP leadership keeps talking up legalization but adamantly refuses to consider a special path to citizenship? They can sell legalization to every demographic — tea partiers included — but support starts to break down once you start asking about ultimate legal status:

imm

That poll’s flawed insofar as it doesn’t specify “citizenship through existing channels,” i.e. the House leadership’s position, as an option but it’s still useful in showing why Democrats should and probably will take whatever Boehner offers them. There’s a public consensus right now on legalization; citizenship will inevitably follow, consensus or not, but demanding it upfront as a condition of reform could blow up the whole thing. Obama’s (and Pelosi’s) task is to convince Democrats to take half a loaf now in full assurance that they’ll get the other half later. Is The One so badly weakened that he can’t even manage a messaging job like that within his own party? Maybe that’s what he and Boehner talked about yesterday.

Exit quotation from Ted Cruz: “If the House went down the road of passing a majority amnesty plan, I think that could screw up the election. I think the odds of Harry Reid remaining majority leader would jump tenfold.”