Having endured an electoral beating two weeks ago, and staring at poor-to-horrific polling, some Congressional Democrats may be getting cold feet on President Obama's impending immigration policy upheaval by executive fiat. A liberal blogger at the Washington Post worries that in spite of the fact that most Senate Democrats are locking arms in support of Obama diminishing their Constitutional power, some back-benchers from red and purple states may be nervously eyeing an escape hatch. And liberals are preparing a blitz of pressure to bring any wayward partisans back in line:
What happens if a half dozen Senate Dems defect and side with the GOP against Obama’s executive deportation relief? Immigration advocates are warning that this is a real possibility — one that could have a serious impact on the politics of this fight if and when a government shutdown battle looms — and they are preparing to exert maximum pressure on those Democrats they deem at risk. “We are preparing to pressure them at home and in Washington, to let them know that there will be hell to pay if this happens,” Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, tells me. Among the Democrats believed to be at risk are Joe Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp, Jon Tester, Claire McCaskill, and Joe Donnelly. Angus King (who is an independent but caucuses with Dems) is also a question mark.
The problem, advocates worry, is that if these Democrats come out against any Obama executive action, it could complicate the political battle to come. Republicans are expected to try to pass legislation rolling back whatever Obama does. Democrats will try to block it. But if Republicans can get 60 votes — which they could do if enough Dems defect — the president would then have to veto it. That could make the politics of this battle worse for Obama: Not only is he acting unilaterally; he’s also facing bipartisan opposition within Congress that is requiring him to protect those unilateral actions with a veto.
Undermining The One's political position, even in defense of our Constitutional order, was once a high crime among Democrats -- but maps that look like this have a way of focusing the mind. The angry Left is starting to eat its own in general, with dozens of sullen activists picketing outside Sen. Mary Landrieu's home (on Capitol Hill, natch), expressing their hope that she loses her December 6 runoff election. It looks like they'll get their wish. Meanwhile, in an extraordinary scene, a liberal House Democrat was unable to answer basic questions about the legality of Obama's planned immigration decree…on MSNBC:
Lawrence O’Donnell: No one at the White House has been able to give me the legal justification for the following component of the President’s plan which was leaked to the New York Times. the part where it says… that the President will allow many parents of children who are American citizens or legal residents to obtain legal work documents. Can you tell me and has the White House told you, what is the legal justification for the President to create a new category of beneficiaries for work documents? How can that be done without legislation?
Congressman Peter Welch: You know, Lawrence, I can’t tell you, and I’m not the lawyer who’s going to be litigating this case. So the answer to that would be decided by the courts as you and I know. But here’s what I can tell you…
L.O.: Congressman, so as far as you know, and I don’t mean to badger about this but I’ve been on this for days now. I haven’t heard from a single elected Democrat, not one Democrat in Washington who can answer the question that I just put to you. Have you heard it Have you heard it answered by any Democrats?
P.W: I haven’t. I haven’t.
Kudos to O'Donnell for asking a legitimate question, and how telling that the Congressman had no choice but to plead ignorance on whether the president has the authority to do something that Democratic leadership is gearing up to defend with great ideological fervor. The mainstream media lustily covers every single internecine dust-up among Republicans. Will they devote as much coverage to a potential slow-motion Democratic crack-up? Or will they again devolve into demoralized, 'nothing-to-see-here' avoidance?