Why not? What do they have to lose? They’ve already pissed away independents and re-energized conservatives thanks to ObamaCare. Might as well use next year to check as many boxes left on their agenda as they can before they take their beating. Amnesty, cap-and-trade, transferring Gitmo detainees to the U.S.: Pour it on and hope that progressives and Latinos will react by turning out in numbers just high enough to keep the House in Democratic hands. Even if it backfires, how bad can the damage be? They lose 35 seats instead of 30?

In fact, this may help them pass ObamaCare next month. What other way is there to read this except as a signal to Blue Dogs — and Harry Reid, whom Pelosi expects to take the lead on this — that The One’s fully prepared to sacrifice them on the altar of his liberal policy wishlist? Now they can grit their teeth, vote yes on whatever he wants them to, and fall on their swords nobly next November. We’ll miss you, Dingy.

Senior White House aides privately have assured Latino activists that the president will back legislation next year to provide a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States…

Whatever proposal Obama puts forward will probably meet equally determined opposition. Another complication is the calendar: Midterm elections are in November, and polls show that the public is more worried about joblessness and the fragile economy than anything else.

So embracing an immigration bill is a gamble for the White House, which already has a packed agenda for 2010: economic recovery, global warming legislation and tougher regulation of financial institutions…

No one anticipates that a core element of the Democratic base will defect to the Republican Party in November. But even a significant drop in turnout — which often happens in nonpresidential elections — could frustrate Democratic efforts to preserve their congressional majority.

Ed made a smart point about this over the summer on how immigration can be used as a wedge against the GOP, splitting the McCain/Graham amnesty faction from the DeMint border-enforcement wing. Certainly true, but (a) Maverick’s going to keep a low profile this time due to his antipathy to Obama and the fact that he’s up for reelection in Arizona; (b) it’s much less appetizing for people like Grahamnesty to push a path to citizenship when unemployment is 10 percent rather than five; and (c) the growing backlash to The One’s policies, especially among indies, will pressure fencesitters who might have voted yes two years ago to vote no now. The bigger wedge, of course, will be on the left, as Democrats get a shot in the arm from Latino voters while pissing off labor interests who don’t want to have to compete with millions of newly legal workers in this economy. Will the marginal gain among the former be greater than the marginal loss among the latter? Hmmm.

Exit question: Would it make more sense to promise to do this in 2011 provided that Democrats retain control of Congress? You’d take some immediate heat off the Blue Dogs while still theoretically getting a bump among Latinos who are eager to see this bill pass. It would also avoid further feeding the anger among indies by kicking the can down the road: At the end of the day, the Dems are better off with a “They passed ObamaCare!” attack ad from the GOP than a “They passed ObamaCare and amnesty!” one.

Update: Possible exit answer: Obama knows it won’t pass the Senate and wants to get it over with now so that he can blame the GOP and reassure Latinos that he tried his best. In that case, you’ll still have high Latino turnout — to punish Republicans — and comparatively little anger among labor and indies. Kabuki!