On one hand, tonight’s presidential announcement, removing the threat of deportation for up to 5 million of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in America, will be a historic moment cherished especially by immigrant families that no longer will live in fear of being torn apart. Make sure you have a box of tissues handy.
On the other hand, watching Republicans go apoplectic is just going to be fun to watch. Make sure you have a tub of buttered popcorn handy.
As I wrote in “Trolling The GOP” for Politico Magazine yesterday, the White House rollout of the immigration executive action has been designed to maximize outrage on right, ruining the Republican leadership’s strategy of appearing sober and pragmatic as they are forced to grapple with renewed calls for government shutdown and other childish retaliatory measures.
Yesterday, as word spread of the imminent announcement, Operation Epic Troll was doing its job. Sen. Ted Cruz laid a strategy for sending poison pills to Obama’s desk and then try to blame him for the inevitable shutdown, proving he’s a one-trick pony. Sen. Tom Coburn is talking about the possibility of mass riots. Rep. Michelle Bachmann railed to The Washington Post that “illiterate foreign nationals … we all know that many, in all likelihood, will vote,” and added that was Obama’s intention: “He’s looking at new voters for 2016…. People do vote without being a citizen.”
Just two weeks ago, rational Republicans thought they had a model of success to elevate in Sen.-elect Cory Gardner, who ran as an immigration moderate and performed well with Latino voters. Now Republican voices of petulance and bigotry are dominant, and if they remain so, Republican chances to compete in higher-turnout presidential years dims yet again.
Obama’s executive order will do what legislation could not: force Republicans to choose between reaching out to the growing Latino community or clinging to the anti-immigrant deadweight in their traditional base.
The chaos about to erupt on the right won’t be pretty, but it will be enormously entertaining. I have three words to say in conclusion: nom nom nom.