Many Republicans took a similar approach to two very different presidential issues this week: concurring with Obama's policies on deportation of young immigrants and deployment of drones against al Qaeda leaders but not the process of getting there, supposedly bypassing Congress and leaking good news. Good ends, bad means?
*On Deporting and Wooing Latinos. Ron Reagan and Mary Matalin reach consensus favoring Obama's new policy toward young undocumented immigrants with clean records... but they clash sharply over context and motive. She argues that doing it by executive order is unconstitutional and merely an election-year move since he didn't do it when his party had big majorities. And, for good measure, Mary maintains that Romney does favor a version of a Dream Act, i.e., not deporting those after they complete military service. (Imagine the contrary: "Thank you Sgt. Rivera. Now, back to Ecuador.")
Ron, however, recalls the GOP filibuster which sunk Obama's Dream Act 55-41 in the Senate, that Romney said he'd veto the bill -- not to mention that whole "self-deportation" thing during the Republican primaries. We listen to President Reagan support amnesty in 1986 for those who have established "roots here" and discuss how Bush43 did indeed advocate for a comprehensive path to citizenship... but the political reality is that Romney supports neither and will have a hard time breaking 30 percent of the Latino vote in such swing states as Colorado, Nevada, Virginia, Florida. So why doesn't the Governor just agree with Obama's move, which appears to be a humane and political winner? (Bloomberg Poll: 64 percent - 30 percent in favor.) "He should but he can't," replies Ron, "because so many in his base wants to throw out all 11 million illegal immigrants."
We then discuss whether 44 was violating the law by citing "prosecutorial discretion" to focus deportation efforts on undocumenteds with criminal records rather than young people who finished school. Didn't Bush43 issue over 700 Signing Statements that he wouldn't follow certain laws based on his view of the Constitution? And don't prosecutors routinely use their discretion with revenues down to conclude that they'd go after big dealers rather than non-violent kids buying weed? Mary graciously concedes the point.
*On Drones and Leaks: More Tech, Less troops?. Mary agrees with the expanding use of drone strikes against al Qaeda (Bush 49 times, Obama 250 as of the Spring) but thinks that specific targets should be left to the Pentagon not the President. She especially objects to news stories about his so-called "Kill List" and revelations about cyberwarfare against Iranian nuclear facilities. "It's scaring off our allies" when such secrets are revealed and, according to Sen. McCain, "the only motive for leak of classified information is to make the President look good." That's the reason Republicans are upset, counters Ron -- they're unhappy with Obama looking good in the war against al Qaeda. He, however, doesn't support drone attacks because of the morality of collateral civilian killings.
As for "leaks" -- Obama flatly denies any information came from the White House, David Sanger of the New York Times says it took him 18 months of reporting to develop some of these stories and a blundering programmer let slip the fact of the Stuxnet worm destroying 100 Iranian reactors. To quote Jon Stewart: "How dare we know that the President is killing people with flying robots!"
*On Issa vs. Holder. The "Fast and Furious" botched gun-walking program, first denied by a rouge A. T. F. Phoenix operation and then admitted by AG Holder to the House Oversight Committee, has broken out of FoxLand and into the mainstream media given a) the House Committee's party-line vote to hold him in contempt and b) Obama's invocation of "executive privilege" to withhold some documents.
Mary emphasizes the "slaughter" of Mexicans and of one American border guard as a result of a foolish program that lost track of 2000 guns. Ron focuses on Bush's prior gun-walking program ("they're different!" she insists) and recalls how Issa from the start announced that he'd use Committee subpoenas to undermine what he called "the most corrupt administration in history." Including the Borgias, asks Ron? And he can't resist noting that his father used executive privilege three times, Clinton 14 times, W 6 times. So although words like "Watergate," "stonewalling," and "what did he know and when did he know it" are now ricocheting through the news echo chamber, Obama's one-time use of the privilege is not exactly Nixonian.
Holder has testified nine times before hostile congressional committees and turned over 7600 pages of documents related to this case... but not others demanded by Issa's panel. Investigate thoroughly what happened, they agree. But Mary urges appointment of a special prosecutor because Holder can't investigate himself, having been "a friend of and bundler of Obama's."
Quick Takes: Clemens in Hall? "Vagina" in Michigan? The Rocket is acquitted of lying to Congress about steroids. Mary thinks a pitcher with 342 wins and the #4 all-time strikeout leader should end up the Hall of Fame, "if for no other reason than the way he stood up to Congress." Ron's more iffy, eventually acknowledging that this jury verdict will mean that he'll eventually be admitted.
There's a frisson of excitement as the two discuss Michigan Democratic legislator Lisa Brown who complained during a floor debate on reproductive services that she doesn't know why "her colleagues were so interested in her vagina" -- and, when the next day was barred by the Republican leader from speaking on the House floor instead read from the Vagina Monologues on the steps of the Capitol. "Is this what the feminist movement has come to?", Mary asks, adding that Ms. Brown sounded as if she was quoting from 50 Shades of Gray. Ron wonders what the big deal is since trans-vaginal probes involves... vaginas.
*On the Radar: We alert listeners to next week's SCOTUS decision on Obamacare.
The Host ventures a prediction: because the Court has almost never invalidated a signature law that a new president ran on and got enacted with 60 percent majorities in both Chambers, Justice Kennedy will write the 5-4 majority opinion upholding the Individual Mandate to purchase health insurance on the narrow ground that, unlike almost all other commerce, health care is the only product/service people can't avoid using in their lifetimes. So Scalia won't be forced to eat broccoli, conservatives will have narrowed the loathed Commerce Clause and the namesake of Obamacare and 30 million uninsured Americans will breathe sighs of relief. Crisis averted. Win-win-win.
But if five activist justices reject precedent, economics and this Solomonic suggestion, especially after Bush v. Gore and Citizens United, they may as well admit being an official arm of the RNC and U.S. Chamber of Commerce and simultaneously issue a declaratory judgment that Romney has won the 2012 election based on... whatever metaphor Scalia comes up with next.