Five Best Monday Columns
Jeb Bush on the urgent need for immigration reform, Alex Pareene on his beloved Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Chris Cillizza on Republican rebellions.
Jeb Bush and Clint Bolick at The Wall Street Journal on immigration Bush, the one-time governor of Florida (future plans, TBD) reunites with Bolick, with whom he co-authored of a book on immigration, to present an argument for passage of reform measures in the House. In it, the two touch on the argument Bush made last month to raised eyebrows about the fertility of new immigrants (though without that word). "To grow economically," they write, "the nation needs more young workers, as the population is aging and its growth is slowing" — but most new visas don't go toward skilled workers. The Senate package isn't ideal, they continue, but "the bill satisfies a criterion that is essential to the rule of law: It makes it easier to immigrate legally than illegally." (Conservative radio host deemed the argument "claptrap.") In the second-to-last paragraph, the authors get to one of the more compelling points for their colleagues in Washington. "In the 2012 presidential election, Republicans received only 27 percent of Hispanic votes," they point out. And, while "immigration is not the only issue on which Hispanics or Asians vote," it's a "gateway issue." Bush may hope it's a gateway for his own progress, as well.
Alex Pareene at Salon on Michael Bloomberg's political giving "There is one important thing you have to remember about Michael Bloomberg," Alex Pareene writes, with his characteristic reserve: "He is an asshole." While progressives have, for months, celebrated the mayor's foray into national politics by leading — and funding — an effort to strengthen gun laws, Bloomberg's political spending is about to take a turn they might appreciate less. In order to block changes to the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy, the Mayor will "unload a small fortune on small-time city council races," Pareene suggests, in order to get the vote he needs to veto the new measures. Why would he do this? See above. "The mayor is deeply attached to the idea that he is the only man capable enough and qualified to manage the city," Pareene continues, "and he is also unshakable in his conviction that data and facts are always, invariably on his side, even when they quite obviously aren’t." Incidentally, reviews of Pareene's one-word summary of the mayor are mixed.
Samuel Bagenstos at Pacific Standard on civil rights and the Supreme Court Samuel Bagenstos, a former deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Department of Justice, is not blind to the significance of the Supreme Court's most celebrated decisions last week. The repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act was "a true triumph for our Constitution’s fundamental guarantee of equal protection," he writes. But in three other decisions, "the Court seriously hampered the key statutes Congress has enacted to protect civil rights at the ballot box and in the workplace." Those include the Voting Rights Act, which Bagenstos identifies as the most historic of the three. The other two, released last Monday, curtailed the ability of employees to address harassment in the workplace. And, he laments, "the damage caused by the Court’s decisions this week cannot be undone overnight," given that Congress is not likely to take action to strengthen workplace rules or review of voting policies. Instead, he argues, changing these decisions would require "advocates to regroup and reconstitute a new, activist civil rights movement for the 21st century."
Noam Scheiber at The New Republic on the rest of Obama's second term Noam Scheiber has advice for the president, who is now experiencing "the Oval Office version of a midlife crisis." "Obama has plenty of opportunities to salvage his second term and build on his legacy," Scheiber offers. "He just has to commit to playing the hard-ass." (We half-apologize for all of the vulgarity in today's columns.) In order to play that game in politics, one needs leverage, a way to entice or force the action you seek. Take immigration, for example. "[T]he GOP has to have immigration reform, and Republican elites know it," Scheiber writes. "That means Democrats should make very few concessions on the immigration bill." On that, they have leverage. Same with the president's announcement that he'll use his rule-making authority to cut power plant emissions. That could give him leverage to get Congress to enact rules they find more acceptable than the EPA's unilateral decree. But Scheiber undermines his argument somewhat with one example he chooses. The president's stiff spine on the sequester doesn't seem to have paid off politically.
Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post on Republican independence An interesting counterpoint to Scheiber's piece is Chris Cillizza's. Political parties exist largely in order to build power that elected officials can wield as a group. But, Cillizza argues, a number of Republican legislators aren't being team players. "[T]here are simply too few members willing to occasionally set aside personal interests and ambitions for the broader goals of the party," he writes. "They just won’t take one for the team." He identifies several examples, though they're not hard for most observers to quickly come up with. The rebellious members are largely those from the more conservative (once called "Tea Party") wing of the party. "Their reluctance to go along with the GOP team, then, is a natural outgrowth of strongly held beliefs" — and it's what the voters said they wanted. Rebellions of this sort aren't unusual for parties in power, of course. When you have more votes than you need, a few members can stray from the party line. But it complicates Scheiber's proposal. If House Republicans are willing to stray far enough from their party's leadership that they submarine its Farm Bill proposal — "among the 62 Republicans who voted against the bill, five were committee chairmen," Cillizza notes — what are the odds they'll be cowed by the president they oppose?