The conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer laid out the president’s calculus more bluntly on Fox News: “With immigration, he wins either way. I’m not sure he thinks he can get it passed, seeing the resistance among the Republicans to the deal over the budget. I think he knows he’s not going to have a good chance of getting immigration through, but he thinks — and he’s probably right — that he can exploit this for the midterm election as a way to gin up support, for the Democrats to portray the Republicans as anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic, etc.”
Republicans have a tough choice.
They can ride shotgun once again with the politically suicidal Tea Party faction, a group that the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found this week to be “less popular than ever.” They can allow the most strident voices on the far right that oppose comprehensive immigration reform — Rush Limbaugh has likened it to the Republican Party’s “authoring its demise” — to direct their path and further alienate Hispanic voters, who are increasingly coming to see the party as an unwelcoming place…
Or Republicans can take the less likely path and demonstrate that they’ve been cowed enough to move ahead on a major piece of legislation that is supported by the majority of the American people — a July Gallup poll found that 71 percent of Americans believe that passing immigration reform is important. And that would be good not just for the president’s legacy but for the health of the country as a whole.