The Only Thing to Fear is Never Getting Elected Again

Ah, bipartisanship. Can you smell it? Well it's in the air again, as a group of eight senators (for the love of god, can we not call them a "gang"?), four Democrats and four Republicans, unveiled a proposal for immigration reform. It includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants (an even faster one for seasonal agricultural workers, because what, do you expect native-born Americans to spend 10 hours a day bending over in the hot sun?), measures to improve the legal immigration system, and efforts to attract skilled immigrants. The proposal also stipulates that the path to citizenship would only happen after the implementation of stricter border enforcement, but one of the great unacknowledged developments of recent years is that border enforcement is far more vigorous than it used to be. We've got more Border Patrol agents making more arrests, and Barack Obama has deported people much faster than George W. Bush did (there were more than 400,000 deportations in 2012, a new record).

Immigration reform is looking rather likely to pass through Congress, and there's one reason: fear. Republicans are terrified that unless they do something to reverse their abysmal performance among Latino voters in the last election, they could go the way of the Whigs. So even though most of them don't really want to do it, enough of them could grit their teeth and vote yes on a comprehensive immigration reform package.

And that's how bipartisanship happens: not when everyone realizes that they love their country more than they love their party, or when the cries of the public for comity in Congress become too loud, or even when a problem gets too big (as it happens, after years of steady increases, the number of undocumented immigrants has been stagnant since the Great Recession hit, mostly because there were fewer available jobs drawing immigrants here). Bipartisanship happens when preferences and raw political interest align to give both parties something they want or think they need. The Democrats have long wanted comprehensive immigration reform, and the Republicans now see it in their interest.

So They Say

"You know, Steve, I got to tell you ... you guys in the press are incorrigible. I was literally inaugurated four days ago. And you're talking about elections four years from now."

President Obama, in his 60 Minutes joint interview with Hillary Clinton

Daily Meme: Cabinet Pre- and Post-Mortems

  • With the inauguration over, cabinet secretary revolving door season is nigh. And since this is D.C., everyone has opinions on those coming in and heading out.
  • Hillary Clinton has been the cabinet hostess with the mostest news coverage lately, but her future ambitions mostly overshadow overviews of her State Department legacy. But, some people are willing to look in the rearview mirror instead of to 2016. 
  • The president said in his joint interview with Clinton on Sunday, "I think Hillary will go down as one of the finest secretary of states we've had. It has been a great collaboration over the last four years. I'm going to miss her. Wish she was sticking around."
  • Brit Hume, however, is not impressed.
  • Hilda Solis, the exiting Labor secretary, was (surprise!) not seen in a favorable light by the Washington Times, which called her the "secretary for the Support of Unions," a scorching insult when printed in that newspaper's pages.
  • Harold Meyerson, on the other hand, wrote on our site that "there has never been a more pro-worker Secretary of Labor than Hilda Solis." Similar sentences, except one has an implied smiley face, the other an angry one.
  • Obama had nice things to say about Interior outgoer Ken Salazar, even though he once "chided the interior secretary for using cowboy language."
  • The Interior Department is replete with red tape and Salazar faced snafus up the wazoo. Kate Sheppard writes that between that and Republican interference, it's no wonder he's itching to leave.
  • Robert Semple writes that Salazar "had a very full agenda, much of which he completed." 
  • What about Tim Geithner? The still-to-be-untangled debate over the successfulness of his measures to stem the recessionary tide means that his legacy will likely remain blank until the definitive stories of the financial crisis are finally penned. However, people are wagering guesses now, like Steven Rattner who "walked past the portraits of previous Treasury secretaries that line the building’s wide hallways and mused about how history would assess Tim. Near great? Without a doubt. Great? Certainly warranted, in my estimation."
  • Arnold King begs to differ, thinking history will not look kindly on the failure to undertake a major restructuring of Wall Street. 
  • What to make of the legacy of the entire first-term cabinet? One D.C. policy analyst says, "Everyone discusses that the first term of Obama was a team of rivals. Now it looks like they're putting together a band of brothers of [cabinet picks] who have a close relationship with President Obama."

What We're Writing

  • Bob Moser looks back on the 2012 election, and concludes that no matter the outcome, big money and voter suppression is not a good look for the world's eldest democracy. 
  • Harold Meyerson explains why the D.C. Circuit Court's latest decision on recess appointments is bad news of an especially pernicious sort.

What We're Reading

  • Sarah Palin is done at Fox News, but the $15.85 she made per word during her tenure as a commentator should keep her in the green for quite some time.
  • William Howard Taft is the Nationals' new racing president. We suspect the Taft Diet may be part of his off-season shape-up plans.
  • Hendrick Hertzberg writes that Obama seems to have finally embraced being Obama.
  • We already knew that being poor makes it harder to stay skinny, but a new study says that even thinking about adversity might make us eat more. God, is anybody else hungry?
  • Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night, but only an Act of Congress might stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
  • Alec MacGillis sums up the National Review conference's message: Obama is out to destroy us!
  • The Guardian notes that despite record sales of AR-15s, the sitting administration continues to crack down on whistleblowers—and that the only person who ended up in jail because of U.S. torture was the guy who tried to stop it.
  • Paul Krugman has another mini exposé on the way that Republican claims of new-leafery are more about style than substance. We've got it, Krugster, now how are you going to get it to the Great Foxed Masses?

Poll of the Day

The state-by-state approval numbers for Obama were released today by Gallup. D.C. and Hawaii gave him top marks, no surprise given that the president can claim both as a home base. The bottom two states—Utah and Wyoming—are a bit of a puzzler, given their low unemployment and great economic outlook. Looks like whatever's the matter with Kansas is the matter with these guys. It proves the age old axiom: Haters gonna hate.

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