Slip: MSNBC guest says Obama ‘wants’ the border crisis to be ‘a big problem’
posted at 6:01 pm on July 10, 2014 by Noah Rothman
Bloomberg View columnist Francis Wilkinson is apparently thrilled about the worst humanitarian crisis to impact the United States in years. Why? Let’s check his latest column which piqued the interest of MSNBC’s bookers.
Wilkinson was apparently invited on the program to discuss a June 27 dispatch, “Immigration Reform Dead. Obama Is in Trouble.” In that piece, the columnist laments that the current crisis has all but thwarted hopes for reform in the remainder of Obama’s second term, and might even alienate pro-immigration reform activists more than he already has.
But Wilkinson really did not spend that much time talking about his dour column from June 27 because, on July 7, he had an epiphany: this border crisis may not be the disaster for Obama he had originally suspected.
In “Obama’s Midterm Surprise: Immigration,” Wilkinson made an about face and asserted that Democrats should be elated about the crisis on the border.
He begins by noting that Obama is in a genuinely tight spot and does not have any perfect options for dealing with the immigration crisis. Republicans, Wilkinson writes, cannot be appeased.
“Any executive action of that breadth would produce high-pitched wails from nativists along with calls for impeachment from those Republicans too decorous to demand that Obama be drawn and quartered,” he submits. How kind.
He also concedes that Republicans do have some electoral momentum which could propel them to a Senate majority in the fall. This is a prospect that Democrats might welcome, he writes, as a Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would have difficulty corralling a majority out of “a base split between a faction hunkering down in the 1980s and one fleeing for the 1890s.”
This is a slick observation for one presumably supportive of the party that backs 20th Century models of unionized labor, is bitterly opposed to the private sector technological advances that have made the U.S. the largest oil and natural gas producer on earth in just four years, and remains resentful of modern automated wonders like ATMs. But I digress…
Wilkinson goes on to suggest that this immigration crisis is a blessing in disguise for Democrats as it puts immigration reform on the front burner and might energize the Democratic base. Maybe, though it is just as likely that this issue will fail to energize Obama voters just as have efforts to elevate issues like the environment, the Koch brothers, Hobby Lobby, racism, and the invidious horrors of the First Amendment.
Appearing on MSNBC to discuss his thesis, Wilkinson went a step further than he did in his column. In this segment, he suggested that Obama “wants” the present crisis, and he wants it to be a “big” one.
“I think he wants this to be a big problem,” Wilkinson told the hosts of MSNBC’s The Cycle on Thursday. “I think he wants this to be such big problem right now that Congress has to deal with it, and that the media’s focused on it, and that the American public is focused on it.”
The Bloomberg View columnist added that the GOP’s “nativist” streak is stronger than their hatred for the president, so they will cave to an immigration reform proposal if it is sufficiently focused on border protection.
“I think he wanted a big splash. I think he wanted a big story,” Wilkinson continued. “And I think he needs a big story and a big splash in order to force a resolution of the border.”
Too clever by half. Wilkinson conceded in this segment that the crisis prompted by the influx of unaccompanied migrant children must be resolved before any reform proposal can be addressed, and a resolution to this crisis does not appear to be in the offing in the near future. Every day, the president’s political position grows more tenuous, the members of his party grow bolder and more cutting in their criticisms of his inaction, and the outlines of a post-Obama Democratic Party grow clearer.
None of these are particularly good outcomes for the president or his party. Sometimes a disaster is really just a disaster. Wilkinson probably should have stuck to the thoughts he penned his June column.