Obama to oppose Senate bill's border enforcement requirements in immigration speech today

I use the term “border enforcement requirements” loosely, of course.

I’m sticking with what I wrote yesterday, that Obama’s insistence on giving a big left-wing speech about immigration is really just a way to make the Senate bill look “moderate” by comparison. He has to walk a fine line in praising the bill to keep skittish Democrats on board while criticizing the enforcement parts so that skittish Republicans can sell it to their supporters as being “too conservative for Obama.” I think that’s what he’s up to today in Vegas, but you never know with The One. The urge to fatally polarize this issue by attacking Republicans in front of a microphone might simply be too great. A friend in politics e-mailed last night with the subject line “HAHAHAHAHA” linking to this piece, which describes how Obama “does not favor linking legal status to border security,” i.e. that he wants to get work on citizenship for illegals ASAP. My friend’s take: “Obama either wants a bill to fail so that he can continue clubbing Republicans as intransigent, or he can’t help himself effing up the process.” C’mon. Could O really be so stupid as to refuse the GOP’s insane offer to add millions more Democratic voters to the rolls via a path to citizenship? We’re about to find out, my friends.

Needless to say, after his snotty digs at Republicans in his inaugural, tone will be key:

“We see the Senate principles as a centrist set of principles, but we expect the administration to be more detailed to the left,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a leading immigration advocacy group. “I don’t think it’ll be an immigration advocate’s dream, but it will be a solid left-of-center proposal.”…

Immigration advocates said they expect Obama to be forceful in his public remarks Tuesday and offer details that go beyond the blueprint on the White House Web site. But there are risks for the president, who has accused Republicans of opposing his initiatives to avoid giving him political credit.

If Obama’s speech in Las Vegas, in a state with a growing number of Hispanic voters, is too tri­umphant or too hectoring, he could risk alienating Republicans whose support will be necessary, some lawmakers have said. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) warned Obama against delivering a “divisive, partisan speech.”

Matt Lewis makes a good point too about the timing:

While some might view Obama’s insertion into the debate as a “poison pill,” my guess is it will benefit Rubio by allowing him to attack Obama — and simultaneously push the senate’s more prudent framework. One possibility is that this could help highlight the conservative principles Rubio has been fighting to include in the deal.

And it couldn’t come at a better time. Rubio is going on Rush Limbaugh today to talk about his plan. Now — thanks to Obama — Rubio will likely spend most of his time talking about the differences between Obama’s amnesty plan and Rubio’s alternate plan (where border security and other conditions must be met prior to citizenship).

Again: Is that O’s whole strategy here, to let Republicans use him as a punching bag in order to make it easier to sell the big legalization effort to skeptical conservatives? Or is he actually trying to sabotage the bill so that he can go on kicking Republicans as obstructionist? One point in favor of the latter theory is that yesterday’s joint presser with McCain, Schumer, Rubio et al. to announce the Senate bill wasn’t originally scheduled for Monday. As of last weekend, per WaPo, they were planning to announce their agreement “as early as next Friday,” February 1. Why’d they move it up to Monday? Because, according to Politico, The One was evidently prepared to bigfoot the entire effort by giving his immigration speech today whether or not the McCain gang had announced anything of its own yet. Which is insane: If O had gone first on this, it would have been branded the “Obama immigration push” and the McCain gang’s proposals would have been dismissed as an afterthought or as a mere derivative of O’s plan. And yet the White House was prepared to risk that. Keep looking that gift horse in the mouth, champ.