Bipartisan Patina

This morning in expressing puzzlement over the three-week-delay tactic of House Republicans on DHS funding, I didn’t give much credence to one possible explanation:

Yes, maybe Republicans can contrive some meaningless vote in the Senate to condemn the latest presidential executive action on immigration that a few Democrats might be convinced to vote for or at least not filibuster. But so what if it passes? Obama will veto it.

But now the very informed Greg Sargent suggests that may be exactly what the Republicans are up to, and quotes a prominent immigration advocate, Frank Sharry, as fearing this outcome:

“Centrist democrats could peel off in large enough numbers to force a presidential veto. That would put a bipartisan patina on the opposition to the president’s executive actions and would send a dispiriting signal to Latino and immigrant voters that the Democratic Party is not united in defense of them. Democrats’ strength in this battle has been their unity. Joining Jeff Sessions, Ted Cruz, and Republican opposition would undermine this unity, and undermine the contrast in the eyes of immigrant voters who see Republicans as the enemy and Democrats as their friend, a big advantage for Democrats heading into 2016.”

Huh.

Without question, the configuration of forces in Congress is compelling Republicans generally to pursue a strategy of provoking presidential vetoes of bills that last year would have probably succumbed to defeat in the Senate. I’ve figured, though, that sort of Kabuki theater was for the benefit of “the base,” not part of an effort to convince swing voters or Democratic voters they were championing “bipartisan” legislation. Sharry may just be trying to keep the pressure up on wayward Democrats. But I can see how the “bipartisanship” gambit might fit into a GOP Grand Strategy of trying to convince the MSM and swing voters that they’re in some fictional “center” while the radical tyrants Obama and HRC keep pulling Dems to the left.

In this particular case, Democrats have a pretty good counter-argument in the example of NV Senator Dean Heller, who’s been resolutely voting with them on every motion connected with the effort to kill DACA. I’d say that gives them the “patina” of bipartisanship as well. And who’s to say one “patina” is more significant than the other?

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.