Marco Rubio, aka Sen. Cottonmouth, has never gotten over the fact that his political dreams nearly drowned in the small bottle of water he reached for while giving the Republican response to the President's State of the Union address in 2013. He's been trying to come back ever since.
What he needs to come back in the party he serves is the votes of cranky white supremacist Teabaggers that control the GOP's fast-shrinking voting base. And nothing is more scary to that base than a bunch of brown people being allowed to stay in this country - thanks in no small part to the GOP's obstruction in Congress to both comprehensive immigration reform and to full funding for enforcement.
Now that the President's executive action is nearing, the GOP is growing more and more nervous every day about how best to foil Obama's plan. They tried to attach draconian deportation changes to a scant funding bill in the House and it went down in flames because it did not have approval from racists extraordinaire such as Steve King. So the GOP's bright young star, Marco Rubio is looking his fellow villain Ted Cruz for guidance. And he has found it: another government shutdown!
But he didn't say shutdown! The funny thing is, everything else Republicans could do to use the funding mechanisms at Congress' disposal have already been tried. They can't even pass those restrictions out of the chamber of Congress they do control, let alone get it past the Senate and through the President's veto pen. So that leaves only one option, if they are going to use the power of the purse to keep the President from doing his job: shutting down the government.
I say Marco Rubio should go for it. Everyone already knows that the GOP "leadership", such as it is in Congress, is completely feckless and cannot stop their own party's rabid wingbats from ruining all their plans. Ted Cruz proved that last year, by singlehandedly shutting down the government while his Republican colleagues were left watching in terror as their party suffered the worst damage in the polls in recorded history. Cruz had the support of the Tea Party nutjobs in the party, and that's all that mattered. Nothing else - including the fact of Cruz's utter failure to achieve stated objective for the shutdown, preventing the Affordable Care Act from taking full effect.
I suspect that the President, being the brilliant strategist that he is, is well aware of this phenomenon within the GOP. And he intends to use that predicament to drive a wedge inside the Republican party. That the president has a legitimate case for his action - the Republican House has now had over a year to vote on the bipartisan immigration reform bill passed by the Senate and failed to take it up - makes his action even more potent and the GOP's predicament even more lethal.
If Marco Rubio moves to shut down the government over the President's action on immigration, which is likely to prioritize deportation of criminals and allow family members and skilled workers to remain in this country, one of two things is going to happen, both equally combustible for the GOP:
- The GOP leadership will beat back Rubio's attempt and pass a continuing resolution to keep the government running after October 1. This will break the hearts and spirits of the Republican base incensed at the mulato in the White House treating other brown people humanely and at their own party for not "teaching him a lesson." They will see that move as capitulation by their party - which can certainly complicate the GOP's electoral math.
- The Republican leadership will capitulate to Marco Rubio, Steve King and other extreme elements of the party and shut down the government. In that event, the beating they took during last year's shutdown is going to look pretty good by comparison. Should that happen, Democrats stand a good chance of not just keeping the Senate, but perhaps even picking up the House.
Some Democratic Senate candidates from the "South Shall Rise Again" states have been weary of the political implications of a move by the president for them, but the Democratic party as a whole seems to be relishing the possible opportunity to deliver a devastating blow to the GOP over this.
Wasserman Schultz is speaking to Latino voters - as well as proponents of immigration reform. The Republicans have made it clear that they will not - or perhaps cannot - cooperate with the president in achieving comprehensive immigration reform. If they do, their own base will burn their political house down.
So their only hope to both keep the votes of their white supremacist base and keep the minority vote from turning out in droves in November is to keep any action from happening on immigration, demoralizing the minority vote. And that is the avenue President Obama is closing off. The GOP can bitch, moan and sue all they want, but what they truly fear is that President Obama's action will gain the Democrats the permanent loyalty of Latino voters - the way the Civil Rights Act did for African American voters. If that happens, GOP is finished.
The GOP is cornered. They are desperate, and they are direction-less. They want to use immigration to mobilize their hateful base, but they have now met the result of a clash between a mobilized hatemongering base and a mobilized minority vote twice now, and his name is President Barack Obama.
And Barack Obama has once again cornered them. The gift from the GOP that keeps on giving is not any particular member of their party; it is their continuous underestimation of President Obama's acumen, despite the fact that they fall on their faces every time they try to test him. Now, they are damned if they do and damned if they don't - shut down the government over this, that is. All that is left to do is to wait for the final executive order from the president and watch GOP talking heads spontaneously combust.
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