The President’s very recent speech on immigration lasted for just short of 15 minutes. Broken down, about seventy-five percent of that time was devoted to selling his Executive Order (EO) as not just the morally right thing to do, but the American thing as well; an expression of the value we place on family and compassion, along with a recognition that we are all just a few generations removed from our own forebearers’ arrival here from other lands.
The remaining time was used to spell out the key parts of his EO and to exhort Congress to move forward. The former was announced in straightforward language without rhetorical flourishes. The latter was marked by both an emphatic tone (e.g. “Pass a bill !!!”) on the one hand and conciliation on the other (e.g. I am willing to work with Congress….”).
As a political speech, the president was careful to avoid pointed, explicit blame-casting. But, if you have been following domestic politics for the past 16 months and posts at this blogsite, you know where and with whom guilt resides, and precisely who the president has maneuvered into a corner: John Boehner.
The House Speaker has responded with anger, claims of Obama trampling on the Constitution, and with the filing of his law suit now that he has finally found a lawyer who will advance that pleading after two previous attorneys had abandoned their interest in taking the case. Of course, all of this is “show” – a sop to keep the rabid Obama-haters from grabbing their pitchforks and torches and marching for impeachment.
On a more constructive note, Boehner has said that once the new Congress is seated next January, the House will “rise to the challenge” of developing and passing immigration reform legislation. Whether or not the Speaker can deliver on that promise depends heavily on the attitude towards immigration of the new and returning representatives. In that regard, if the Speaker finds himself with an even larger Tea Party Caucus, then he will be in greater trouble than he realizes now. That is because those particular cohorts are already on record as opposing any type or reform, large or small. How Boehner can manage to bring them around is the burning question for which there is no immediate, fail-safe answer.