Bill Kristol advises the House Republicans to pass nothing to address the crisis at the border involving a flood of unaccompanied minors arriving from distressed Central American countries.

If the GOP does nothing, and if Republicans explain that there’s no point acting due to the recalcitrance of the president to deal with the policies that are causing the crisis, the focus will be on the president. Republican incumbents won’t have problematic legislation to defend or questions to answer about what further compromises they’ll make. Republican challengers won’t have to defend or attack GOP legislation. Instead, the focus can be on the president—on his refusal to enforce the immigration law, on the effect of his unwise and arbitrary executive actions in 2012, on his pending rash and illegal further executive acts in 2014, and on his refusal to deal with the real legal and policy problems causing the border crisis. And with nothing passed in either house (assuming Senate Republicans stick together and deny Harry Reid cloture today), immigration won’t dominate August—except as a problem the president is responsible for and refuses seriously to address. Meanwhile, the GOP can go on the offensive on a host of other issues.

When you think about it, whether the House Republicans pass something to deal with the crisis or not, they are basically going to have to go to the public in the fall and defend their decisions to do nothing about anything.

In fact, their pitch to the electorate will be “reelect us and we’ll continue to do nothing.”

I think they may be overestimating the allure of that pitch.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at