With the immigration reform debate heating up, senators from both sides of the aisle are urging President Obama to stay out of the debate, fearing that his polarizing presence could help sink any bill. Obama, who said yesterday that “the moment is now” on immigration, has been stepping up his public lobbying, drawing attention and fire.
“I think he’s played the right role so far – the outside cheerleader, if you want to call it that – that’s been I think useful and effective,” said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), one of the so-called Gang of Eight behind the bill. “As a Republican, it would be more difficult were he out front and pushing this issue.”
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) agreed, saying that Obama’s low profile would help the issue gain traction. “The president obviously wants to pass immigration reform,” he stated. “There’s no question about that. I think that he’s been constructive in this process, allowing us to see how far we can get on the legislation, negotiating it together.”
But Obama is likely to become more involved as the issue hits the Senate floor, and then possibly the House. Obama’s entire goal is to sink the bill, so that he can run against the House majority in 2014 and recapture both chambers of Congress. That’s why Obama tried to cast Republicans as obstructionists yesterday: “There is no good reason to play procedural games or engage in obstruction just to block the best chance we’ve had in years to address this problem in a way that’s fair to middle-class families, to business owners, to legal immigrants.”
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).