06/20/2012 09:16 am ET Updated Aug 20, 2012

Obama's Immigration Directive: What Republicans Would Do Next If the Situation Were Reversed

Republicans cannot govern, and their policies follow the prescription for failed states described in "Why Nations Fail."

But, they are the experts on pure politics. When it comes to politics, Democrats would do well to channel their "inner Republican."

Had the situation been reversed, Republicans would know exactly what to do: First, a day of hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Then, they would bring the Dream Act to a vote.

It appears as if President Obama's directive to provide work permits for undocumented immigrants that came to the U.S. as children has stirred something among Republicans determined to oppose everything the president does, regardless of what it is.

Criticizing the president for his directive puts them even further behind the 8-ball with Hispanic voters, so they decided to trot out the "why did he not pass a law in 2009-10?" argument. Perhaps they did not recall that when their disastrous George W. Bush was president, he pushed for comprehensive immigration reform only to find that some of its Republican co-sponsors bailed on him.

But, OK, we can all let bygones be bygones. Now that everyone either favors the Dream Act, or critiques the president for not pushing it when it would have been demagogued to smithereens as it had been before, perhaps we can test whether the grand "Kumbaya" moment has arrived.

Bring the Dream Act to a vote.

President Truman could smell phoniness miles away. That is why, at the tumultuous 1948 Democratic convention, President Truman calmly awaited while the time for his acceptance speech was pushed back to the wee hours of the morning, dropped a bombshell: If the Republicans really support what they say they support, let us have a special session of Congress to pass it all.

The special session came, nothing passed. But, by palpably demonstrating Republican phoniness, Truman's whistle-stop campaign against the "do-nothing Republican Congress" had teeth. And, despite all the splits in the Democratic party, and despite Truman not being Franklin Roosevelt, he won.

Bring the Dream Act to a vote.

When Connecticut Attorney-General, now Senator, Richard Blumenthal was running, it was found that he had exaggerated his own military record. Within a day or two, Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) proposed legislation making it a crime to misstate one's military record. He quickly withdrew it when, a week or so later, it was found that Mark Kirk, Republican candidate for Senate from Illinois, had also exaggerated his military record.

But, note Hatch's immediate reaction, using a potential Senate bill (that had no chance of passing) to highlight a vulnerability of an opponent.

If Democrats had the same gut instincts, they would have embraced the Hatch bill and included other misstatements for criminal prosecution such as lying us into war, or denying that carbon dioxide is a heat trapping gas.

But, alas, Democrats have lost their capacity for gut reactions.

Perhaps, thinking of what Republicans would do in this situation might help.

If the situation were reversed, Republicans would bring the Dream Act to a vote in the Senate.


After several years vilifying them, Republicans now express concern for those brought to this country through "no fault of their own." In the primary Mitt Romney slammed Rick Perry (R-Texas) for his compassion toward this group, and declared that he would veto the Dream Act.

Actions speak much louder than words. Bring the Dream Act up for a vote.

Let us see how they vote. Let us hear Mitt Romney tell them how to vote.