Jim Gilchrist, MMP Exclusive – When former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R) stepped back from his previous position on immigration reform, telling everyone he does not support a path to citizenship for immigrants who entered the country illegally, he unleashed a torrent of criticism among stunned liberals who were counting on his support.
“I think there has to be some difference between people who come here legally and illegally,” Bush explained in an NBC interview. “It is just a matter of common sense and a matter of the rule of law. If we’re not going to apply the law fairly and consistently, we’re going to have another wave of illegal immigrants coming into the country.”
Bush’s return to right thinking is welcome, of course, but it is important for another reason: it is one more indication that deep fissures are forming among liberals who thought comprehensive immigration reform was a slam dunk only a few months ago.
Bush’s change of heart comes just at a time when others in the liberal camp are expressing extreme frustration with Obama. They do not appreciate how he is merely using the immigration issue as a billy club against Republicans. His priority, they say, is to bruise and batter Republicans in a pretend fight over immigration reform so Democrats will win the majority in both houses in 2014.
One immigration reform advocate, Rubin Navarrette, recently expressed his disillusionment with the Obama administration in the starkest of terms: “When it wants to be tough, it describes deportees as a bunch of violent criminals with long rap sheets. When it wants to be compassionate, the administration insists that it is keeping its hands off those illegal immigrants who President Obama likes to refer to, when schmoozing with Latino audiences, as ‘hard-working people looking for a better life.’” Navarrette calls this the “Obama two-step”.
It seems that some Democrats in Congress are already on board with Obama’s strategy. According to Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), “The president understands that to get anything done, he needs a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. To have a legacy in 2016, he will need a House majority in 2014, and that work has to start now.”
If Obama truly is using immigration as a wedge issue in preparation for 2014, this could be a serious miscalculation that does more harm to Democrats than to Republicans. Sure, Democrats can play Republicans for saps, but at what cost? Inflicting maximum pain on the American people for political gain is never a good strategy, as is being attempted right now with threatened sequestration budget cuts. Democrats will be the ones to take the hit in 2014 if economic recovery stalls as a result of this Obama-manufactured crisis.
Friends, the battle is not over by a long shot…