Uproar over Obama and immigration: The media’s perfect storm


That was the screaming banner headline in the Huffington Post, suggesting that one of Fox’s leading conservative commentators would lead a crusade to boot President Obama from office.

Except that’s not quite what Charles said; it was a bit of clickbait by the liberal site.

Krauthammer did tell Megyn Kelly that Obama’s imminent executive order on immigration will be “an impeachable offense.” But he immediately qualified that: “If the circumstances were different, if we were at the beginning of a presidency, if we hadn't had years when the Congress has been supine and unresponsive at other grabs of their authority by the executive like Obama unilaterally changing ObamaCare after it was passed about 30 times with no response from the Congress.”

The media love this brewing battle so much they cannot wait for Obama to issue the order. Those conciliatory words that the president and Mitch McConnell uttered after the midterms sounded like a snooze. And remember, I said there wouldn’t be much cooperation in this polarized Beltway environment, and it took all of one week to fall apart.

The immigration showdown is the perfect storm for the press. It’s got passionate partisanship, with white-hot rhetoric on both sides. It’s got Obama, who seemed like he might slide into lame-duckdom after the Democratic drubbing, at the center. It’s got a constitutional argument about executive power, with some Republicans and conservatives invoking the specter of impeachment. It’s got raw politics, with questions about whether this will hurt Republicans and help Democrats with Hispanic voters for years to come. It’s got theater, with the coming warfare between Obama and a Republican Congress certain to spread to other issues. And as a bonus—ding ding ding!—it’s revived talk of a government shutdown.

What’s striking is that the administration is systematically leaking the details in advance, as in this New York Times piece:

“President Obama will ignore angry protests from Republicans and announce as soon as next week a broad overhaul of the nation’s immigration enforcement system that will protect up to five million unauthorized immigrants from the threat of deportation and provide many of them with work permits, according to administration officials who have direct knowledge of the plan…

“One key piece of the order, officials said, will allow many parents of children who are American citizens or legal residents to obtain legal work documents and no longer worry about being discovered, separated from their families and sent away.”

The specific nature of the leaks, including an expansion of permits for high-tech workers, suggests that this is either being done as a trial balloon or to cushion the shock when Obama actually makes the announcement.

The Washington Post says the GOP is divided into two factions:

“The first, favored by the GOP leadership, would have Republicans denounce what House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has called ‘executive amnesty’ and use the party’s new grip on Congress to contest changes to the law incrementally in the months ahead.

“The second, which has become the rallying cry for conservatives, would seek to block the president’s decision by shutting down the government for an extended period until he relents.”

The Republicans now seem to be inching toward a short-term budget extension that avoids a shutdown confrontation in December and delays things until they’re in charge of both houses.

I think the shutdown chatter is exaggerated and that the Republicans, having just taken over on the Hill, will not want to go there. Boehner and McConnell have said as much. But that doesn’t mean the majority party won’t have all kinds of ways to fight back.

At this point it’s almost becoming a media debate over political tactics and executive abuse, rather than a substantive conversation about immigration and the fate of the millions who are here illegally.

Maybe that will change when the president, who has threatened to do this for months, finally pulls the trigger. But I wouldn’t count on it.

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