Harry Reid: Let's pass immigration reform now and wait for President Cruz to enforce it in 2017

Dude, I think we should take this deal.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because Chuck Schumer floated the same idea back in February, minus the trollishly sarcastic reference to President Cruz. It’s a clever way of calling Boehner’s bluff when he complains that Republicans can’t pass anything until Obama proves that he can be trusted to faithfully execute new border-security laws. No problem, say Reid and Schumer; we’ll add a provision to the new law that says it doesn’t take effect until January 20, 2017. That solves your Obama problem in one fell swoop and leaves it to the next president. And if Republicans balk at that idea, Dems can point to it as proof that not only is the “we don’t trust Obama” excuse bogus but that the GOP evidently has little confidence that it’ll be back in the White House in 2017. Beyond all that, Reid and Schumer know a dirty little secret about Republicans: Even if 2016 produced a huge red wave, with Ted Cruz in the White House and the GOP in charge of both houses of Congress, they wouldn’t dare repeal an amnesty bill that passed this year. They might “tweak” it a bit to further beef up security measures or extend the path to citizenship marginally, but there’s no earthly way a party that’s desperate to appeal to Latinos is going to pull the rug out from under them later by rescinding its big outreach gesture on immigration. And that’s why, I think, Reid pointedly mentioned Cruz in his tweet. Even if you righties got your dream candidate, he’s saying, he’s going to let you down on amnesty too.

So why, if this is such a clever play, haven’t Reid and Schumer been more insistent in pushing it over the last three months? Because, I suspect, their own base is too dumb and too impatient to back them up on it. They don’t want to wait until 2017; these are the same people, remember, who’ve convinced themselves that Obama is the “deporter-in-chief” despite ample evidence to the contrary. The White House is sufficiently worried about losing them that O’s on the brink of using executive action to soften DHS’s deportation policy, a risky move that could shatter Boehner’s hopes of passing an immigration bill for good. If amnesty fans breathed into a paper bag and took a hard look at the political landscape, they’d see that everything’s in their favor. Demographic shifts in the electorate have left the GOP petrified of opposing reform indefinitely; in fact, I bet Reid and Schumer suspect that even if a bill passed now that delayed enforcement until 2017, Dems might be able to demagogue congressional Republicans later into agreeing to speed up implementation so that it begins sooner. If Democrats started pounding the table in, say, January 2016, screaming that legalization and “coming out of the shadows” simply can’t wait another year to begin, how many Republicans would swallow hard, imagining a huge Latino backlash in November of that year if the GOP puts up a fight, and agree to go along? For all the blather about conservatives tying Boehner’s hands, soft-headed lefties who aren’t as strategically sharp as Reid and Schumer are making their lives harder too.

In case there’s any doubt of the magnitude of Reid’s trollishness in his tweet, here he is last year commenting on the prospect of President Cruz.