Are Republicans Playing Jedi Mind Tricks on Immigration Reform?

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Greg Sargent explores the immigration debate on the right, and explains why Marco Rubio and others are making the arguments they’re making:

They are subtly making the case to their base that a defeat for immigration reform is actually a hidden victory for Obama….The idea is that if we don’t pass the Gang of Eight plan, Obama wins. This case is being made on several levels. On the one hand, this notion of leaving the issue “entirely in the hands of Obama” is a partly a suggestion that the President just may use his executive powers to solve the undocumented immigrant problem himself if we don’t pass the Senate plan — just as he did with the DREAMers.

….There’s a key nuance here. As I understand the thinking, GOP base voters are turned off by the political argument that we must reform immigration because if we don’t, Obama will be able to screw Republicans over politically with Latinos….That’s why the argument can’t be openly stated as: If we embrace reform, Obama loses. It has to be carefully calibrated in the manner Rubio has adopted: Not doing anything opens the door for a far greater victory for Obama later. He will be able to do for the undocumented what he did for the DREAMers — while not securing the border — a twofer for Obama.

Obama is playing his part in this dance, too. He and the White House frequently take care to say — not in these exact words, but this is the message — that while he supports the Senate compromise, it’s far from the liberal dream legislation he’d like.

Interesting. Basically, Sargent is suggesting that Republican base voters respond more strongly to the suggestion of a crafty Obama victory if they do nothing than they do to the possibility of an Obama loss if they do something. Partly that’s because they’ve been trained to think of Obama as a cunning grifter constantly putting one over on them, and partly because they’re not really convinced that passing immigration reform will help Republicans.

I’m not sure if I buy this or not. But I might!

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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