Via RCP, is my headline accurate or am I hallucinating from sleep deprivation? Assuming it’s the former, here’s a perfect bookend to the last 48 hours. This is how Hopenchange ends, with a guy who’s been mocked for six years for effusing about the thrill Obama’s oratory sends up his leg now dismissing him as a rigid ideologue who, by the way, is too much of an amnesty shill even for his Democratic tastes.

Last night did seem final to me in a way that wasn’t true after the big Republican wave of 2010. Maybe that’s a matter of the timetable: Obama will be gone in two years, something that wasn’t the case during the last midterms, so yesterday was voters’ last chance to render a verdict on him. The entire Democratic arc from 2006 through 2012 — the Obama era — feels like it’s finished, though. Doesn’t mean they can’t win in 2016, just means it’ll look and feel different than the last decade of victories. Here’s one of O’s biggest fans grappling with the end.

That said, I’m not as sure as Matthews is that executive amnesty is proof that Obama’s encased in a liberal cocoon. I lean towards David Harsanyi’s explanation, that O knows what he’s doing here. Like I said this morning, there are political benefits to lobbing this grenade:

If Obama moves forward a number of things are bound to happen: First, and most definitely, there will be no way Republican leadership can engage the administration in any meaningful bipartisan legislation for the next two years. With a freshly enraged base, the GOP will be powerless to work with the White House unless it’s willing to risk civil war. Second, kicking off a new round of needless acrimony debunks the fiction that Obama has any intention of recalibrating his strategy and finding common ground moving forward…

I certainly don’t fancy myself a legal scholar, but there is almost no doubt this would plunge DC into both political and legal crisis. Which might very well be the point. The White House does best when it finds new ways to vilify conservatives. Immigration is a perfect way to initiate the fight. Perhaps this is a fight it wants.

Arguably, the more bitter things get between Obama and the GOP Congress, the easier things are for Hillary in 2016. She’s going to run as the “experience” candidate, the old pro who knows how to get things done where amateurs like O and radicals like those darned tea partiers can’t. The more gridlock there is and the nastier things get, the more appealing that message becomes potentially. (That’s why Boehner and McConnell are eager to pass a few popular legislative items quickly.) Executive amnesty is a way to poison relations with the new Senate majority from the start, setting the tone for two more years of public exasperation with both sides. That’s also a perfect bookend, not to the last 48 hours but to the last 10 years. Obama became a superstar at the 2004 convention by insisting that there are no red states or blue states, just the United States. Now he’s on the verge of ending his presidency with an illegal amnesty measure that’ll pit all sorts of constituencies against each other and that will, by design, paralyze the government by antagonizing the other party to the point of boycott. From Hope and Change to deliberate, destructive partisan provocations aimed at gaining a political advantage. That’s how the Obama era ends.