Since Speaker of the House John Boehner sent word last week that he is planning on suing the President for being President, Democrats have quickly mobilized to send a backlash. Now, President Obama has decided to poke John Boehner's black eye with a stick before it even heals.
The President has announced that he is done waiting for the Republican intransigents in Congress to find their bearings after Boehner informed him that the House GOP plans to continue to stand in the way of comprehensive immigration reform. It has been a year since the Senate passed a broad, bipartisan reform bill, and the President has been more than accommodating for Boehner to get his herd together.
But no more.
President Obama did not outline specific steps, but easing deportation pressures on immigrant families is likely to be part of it, as the president has sounded empathy for families being torn apart by deportation. For families who have American children or young people brought to this country as children eligible for the president's 2012 program to allow them to stay, study and work in the only country they have ever called home.
The president made it abundantly clear that he will still work with anyone of any party for a comprehensive legislative plan to fix our broken immigration system, but also that he will not back down in the face of Boehner's threats to sue him for doing his job.
If Republicans planned on scaring Barack Obama into submission by their plans to use taxpayer dollars to file frivolous lawsuits in an attempt to invalidate in the courts a presidency they couldn't win in an election, they have once again underestimated the strength of this president as well as his political acumen.
The upcoming action by the president on immigration will be his second significant executive order with respect to immigration, after his 2012 action to allow young people brought here as children to stay and work in America. As I pointed out last week, immigration is perhaps the one thing most terrifying out the GOP's racist, xenophobic base, not only because they have invested in defeating as much of the Obama agenda as possible but also because of immigration's natural and steady course to change the ethnic balance in this country.
Because of the deadly combination of the Right's anti-Obama fever and their fear of America slipping away from their white-privileged grip, there is no chance that with the President ready to take new executive action to bypass Congress on immigration, the Tea Party base will not be hammering John Boehner to bring a legal challenge. Boehner has himself opened the door by announcing his intent to sue, and his base will not be forgiving if he doesn't sue to protect white privilege.
The President seems to be counting on Boehner's sad predicament. His announcement this week was not only spoke the truth about the implications - including the current humanitarian crisis on the border - of the GOP's catastrophic failure to act but also a daring invite to Speaker Boehner to put up or shut up. Put or shut up that is, in multiple ways. Most obviously, the President has challenged the Speaker to get his act together and at the same time, he dared Boehner to sue.
Barack Obama knows what everyone, including Boehner himself, understands. Legal ramifications notwithstanding, the political implications of a challenge by the highest ranking Republican in the country, with the blessing of the entire GOP House caucus looks to be disastrous for the Republican party. It has the capacity to explode worse than Mitt Romney's "self-deportation" stance in 2012.
The president is not the only one who has waited and waited and waited for Congress to act on immigration. The president is not the only one who has been frustrated by the power of a small minority in the House immigration legislation that has bipartisan support right now to pass. The president is not the only one appalled at the Republican leadership's wholesale co-option by their party's most fringe elements.
The immigrant community - the legal immigrant community - have been equally angry, frustrated and patient. Yes, immigrants become naturalized citizens and vote. Their children who are born in America vote. These are people for whom immigration is not a culture war issue but a constant fight to keep their families together, their communities intact. The Latino and Asian votes shattered Mitt Romney's pipe dream to win the White House even as he succeeded in his campaign's goal to capture over 60% of the white vote.
And if Boehner goes down the same path, these voters will teach him a lesson, too.
The President has backed Boehner into a corner, and given him two choices: placate his base and suffer the wrath of the growing Latino (and Asian) vote - not in some distant future but this November, or work with the President and do the right thing for once, even if he has to take pain from his base.
I said last week that the President's executive actions in the face of Congressional obstruction are not simply good and legal, but brilliantly laid minefields waiting for the GOP to step on.
He's waiting for it to go BOOM.