Chris Stirewalt argues yes, and not without reason. Before we get to that, though, I want to flag this WaPo story about Obama leaning on liberals privately to take half a loaf on immigration in the name of getting something passed. Since the beginning of the Gang of Eight’s big push, there’s been a theory kicking around — occasionally advanced by no less a tea-party hero than Ted Cruz — that O secretly wants the bill to tank so that he can use its failure to demagogue the GOP as anti-Latino in the 2014 midterms. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The latest proof:
In a private meeting with a dozen Latino leaders at the White House this week, Obama emphasized that securing a large margin in the Senate is crucial to putting pressure on House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) to accept the general framework of the legislation.
The president made clear that he expected the people in the room to support the Senate proposal even if they had doubts about some details, participants said. Once an overarching plan was locked in place by Congress, Obama told the group, the administration would be able to revisit some of their concerns and figure out ways to improve it.
“He said, ‘If the bill were presented on my desk today, I would sign it,’ ” said Janet Murguía, president of the National Council of La Raza, who attended the meeting. “He looked at the advocates and said, ‘We’re not going to get everything we want in this.’ ”
Of course he would sign it. In most important respects, it’s indistinguishable from his own bill. The reason the Obama “sabotage” theory bugs me so much is because it inadvertently helps McCain and Rubio et al. to sell the bill to the right. If O’s privately against the bill, well, then passing it would surely be some sort of conservative victory, right? Wrong, wrong, wrong. Obama wants this done, partly for “legacy” reasons (it may well be the only major domestic accomplishment of his second term) and partly because it’s a golden opportunity to have the GOP share responsibility for amnestizing millions of would-be Democratic voters. He’d be nuts not to seize the chance to do it now, especially since (a) there’s almost no reason to think Latinos won’t vote solidly Democratic next year anyway and (b) he has lots of other political bludgeons to use against the GOP, from gay marriage to background checks to the minimum wage to some of the quasi-hawkish provisions in the Gang of Eight’s own bill. He doesn’t need it to fail. He can have his cake and eat it too. If you don’t believe me, take it from amnesty fan John McCain: Obama wants this thing to pass. And if that means he has to twist liberals’ arms to concede a few things, he’ll do it.
As for the effect of the bombings, Quinnipiac’s new numbers sure are interesting:
Twenty-three percent of those polled said the terror in Boston has changed their minds about a path to citizenship, and as Stirewalt notes, that was before the news yesterday about Tsarnaev’s after-the-fact accomplices also being here illegally. The Times sees a trend too:
Nothing dramatic there — fully 83 percent still say they support a path to citizenship in principle — but it might be the first stirrings of a growing backlash. McCain is sufficiently nervous about the impact of the bombings on immigration reform that he called yesterday on Fox for limiting visas to immigrants from countries where there’s been “significant influence of radical Islamic extremism.” (Our friends the Saudis will like that.) Rubio has sounded more bearish lately too, telling Sean Hannity yesterday that it’ll be a “struggle” to get the bill through the Senate at this point. Is that because of the bombings, though, or because conservatives have finally started to mobilize, with Jeff Sessions claiming that the “tide is beginning to turn”? Here’s a brutal graphic via Jim Geraghty from the Heritage Foundation, now currently led by Rubio friend/mentor Jim DeMint:
The longer this drags on, the more of that you’ll see on the right. That’s why Democrats are so eager to rush the bill through committee.
Courtesy of Mickey Kaus, here’s a sneak preview of the next line of attack on the bill. The “magnet effect” is apparently already happening.