Littwin: GOP immigration showdown plan hitting full fizzle

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s the shutdown showdown in Washington winds down, there’s no surprise in how it’s going to end.

The House may extend the argument for another three weeks, in order, I guess, to save some face, but the ending would look the same today as it will in mid-March.

I mean, this was always pointing toward a disaster for Republicans, who picked this fight and now are desperately trying to find a way to semi-gracefully throw in the towel before they lose any more important teeth. Here was the plan, in short: Instead of threatening to shut down the entire government in order to defund Barack Obama’s immigration orders, they would threaten to shut down Homeland Security in order to defund Obama’s immigration orders.

[pullquote]How bad was this plan? For it to work (it couldn’t work), Obama would have to back down (he wouldn’t back down) and Republicans would have to be willing to shutter Homeland Security while ISIS-eyes our country and plans an assault (a risk they wouldn’t take).[/pullquote]

I don’t know if anyone ever took the threat seriously, but as ISIS produced one outrage after another, clearly hoping to provoke a land war with the West, it became obvious that the real threat wasn’t coming from the House of Representatives.

For this plan to work (it couldn’t work), Obama would have to back down (he wouldn’t back down) and Republicans would have to risk the danger of an ISIS-related assault (a risk they wouldn’t take). And so the Senate caved, and now it’s just a matter of time before Congress sends Obama a so-called “clean” bill, and we’re onto something else, like maybe another Senate snowball fight.

But we learned something — and it may be an important something — about immigration. For the most part, Republicans didn’t try that hard. As Dave Weigel points out in Bloomberg View, their hearts just weren’t in it.

In fact, Weigel quoted Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, saying just that. “Their heart,” Krikorian said of GOP leadership, “isn’t in the fight; they see it as simply a matter of base management. They don’t mind having these people amnestied and like the idea of being able to blame it on Obama.”

If you watched the Republican presidential contenders parading before conservative voters at CPAC convention Thursday, you got a taste of it. Everyone slammed Obama for being a “dictator” and for “amnesty.” (Here’s a thought: If Obama were, in fact, a dictator, could they actually get away with slamming him?) But nobody talked much about going over any cliffs. The CPAC attendees were definitely angrier than any of the candidates. And it’s no coincidence that Mitch McConnell and John Boehner skipped the affair altogether. They wouldn’t have gotten out two words between them.

OK, you have heard outrage from from the usual suspects — although the talk in Washington has been about how little Ted Cruz has had to say on the topic — but to little effect. While the polls show most people think Obama overreached with his executive orders, the same polls show Obama’s approval ratings climbing.

And how real is your threat when McConnell had promised no shutdown and Boehner spends weeks trying to find a graceful out?

The truth is, there couldn’t be a worse time to consider any kind of partial shutdown of Homeland Security. ISIS leaders want a land war because they’re pretty sure that, win or lose, they would still win. And so the provocations get increasingly difficult to ignore. The New York Times led Friday with the latest — a video of ISIS militants destroying ancient Assyrian works of art, some that date back to 800 B.C. The Times reported that the group emptied 30 Assyrian villages, took maybe 300 captives and demanded that Christians pay a tax, in gold.

But there’s something else, too. We must know by now how the immigration wars are going to end. There will be immigration reform, although certainly not until Obama leaves office, but probably not that long thereafter. The outcome has always been obvious — we were never going to deport 11 million illegal immigrants — but it all came into focus after Mitt Romney’s self-deport plan went nowhere. And at the same time, Obama promised he would do something. He’s done something, and there was always going to be a fight over it.

When the Texas federal judge put a temporary stop to the Obama plan, that was the obvious chance for Republicans to back away. Even Karl Rove wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal advising them to just declare victory and leave it to the courts. Instead, House Republicans stuck with a self-destructive threat that Obama was free to ignore.

That isn’t to say that the fight is over. As the 2016 race heats up, there will be plenty of talk about Obama and immigration. When we get to the debates, immigration reform will once again take center stage. Republicans who aren’t Jeb Bush will undoubtedly try to pin Obama’s orders on Bush.

And Hillary Clinton, assuming she’s the Democratic candidate, will be thrilled any time they bring that particular fight to her.

[Clown confetti shot image by JT.]


  1. Umm…the larger problem is going to be Russia….With this assassination of the opposition party leader, Putin is free from any kind of anti-war voice…The same thing is happening here, except, we have a bunch of idiots assassinating any semblance of sanity in our government…Putin is the winner of the gop/bagger congress…

  2. “The truth is, there couldn’t be a worse time to consider any kind of partial shutdown of Homeland Security. ISIS leaders want a land war because they’re pretty sure that, win or lose, they would still win. And so the provocations get increasingly difficult to ignore.”

    Provocative? That’s how Mr. Littwin views ISIS behavior, merely provocative? Really? The behavior of ISIS is as distant from provocative as Mr. Littwin is from journalism. Trash-talking is provocative, flipping-off another driver is provocative, desecrating the Denver police memorial to fallen officers is provocative but ISIS behavior is murderous, evil and barbaric.

    And, so far, Mr. Littwin has easily managed to ignore most of its “provocations” because of his opposition to a land war in Iraq.

    This is what Mr. Littwin wrote last September 12th:

    “Obama didn’t say how long (destroying ISIS) would take, only that it would take a while. He didn’t say how we’d know the mission was, uh, accomplished. And he didn’t say why, if we left again, that another ISIS or al-Qaeda in Iraq or some other disaffected group wouldn’t simply emerge in its place, starting the cycle over again.”

    Here’s a list of ISIS “provocations” Mr. Littwin has completely and intentionally ignored since then:

    – throwing a blindfolded man off the roof of a building for “being gay” and then stoning him to death when he survived the fall
    – burning alive of a Jordanian pilot
    – beheading of 21 Coptic Christians
    – death of a captive American women

    None of these, not a single one, was apparently “provocative” enough for Mr. Littwin to write about.

    He has, however, found the time to write about books he read last year, this year’s Super Bowl, Saturday Night Live’s 40th anniversary show and, of course, his many, many not-ready-for-prime-time political picks (see: Udall, Mark or Romanoff, Andrew).

    And now he’s trying to sell the idea that Homeland Security is the only thing standing between the US and an ISIS-provoked land war in Iraq.


    The Justice Department announced Tuesday that it had closed its investigation into the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and would not bring federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman.
    NBC News February 24, 2015
     “Justice Department lawyers will recommend that no civil rights charges be brought against the police officer (Darren Wilson) involved in the fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Mo., after an F.B.I. investigation found no evidence to support charges, law enforcement officials said Wednesday. The federal investigation did not uncover any facts that differed significantly from the evidence made public by the authorities in Missouri late last year. ” New York Times January 21, 2015
    “It is entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concerned when you’ve got a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.”
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    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner
    Wounded Warrior Project
    Memorial Day – May 25, 2015

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