The Daily Kos at one point reported to us that the reason the presidential speech wasn't shown on the three venerable broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) is because the White House announced plans for the speech on social networking sites and didn't ask the networks for time for the address. Now it reports to us that Mike Allen, in Politico's Playbook, says that the reason the presidential speech wasn't shown on the three venerable open-air networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) is because they deemed it overtly political in nature, and rejected it. It appears to be a shifting landscape to explain a startling curiosity. I don't know if either is the real reason; they both seem a bit specious to me.
But what's clear is that the Republicans did not get equal time to state their views on those media stations which did air the nationwide speech, something I find disturbing given the backdrop of these "go it alone" executive actions of epic proportion. (Actually, I also find the phrase "go it alone" irritating, suggesting as it does the lone hero trudging forward through the winds of adversity. That is most assuredly not what's going on here, no matter how this most cynical of administrations wishes to portray its actions.) This absence of alternative views left the field basically wide open to the president to define the terms of what he's doing in the most disingenuous – but folksy – way possible, appealing to people's inherently fair natures to mask the inherently injudicious thing that he's doing.
What to do now? I'm sure the Republicans in Washington are discussing this endlessly, so at the risk of arrogance, let me humbly offer some suggestions:
1) Sue. Go forward with that lawsuit that John Boehner has been yammering about for the past several weeks. Yes, I understand the difficulties of with the notion of "standing" but there's that tiny issue of the constitutional separation of powers. The president is in clear violation of Article I of the Constitution, and needs to be called on it. Ultimately, only the Supreme Court has the authority and standing to speak to something of this importance. The time is now. No more shadow boxing, no more pulling punches. Just do it.
2) Withhold the Money. No, don't fall into the president's obvious trap of shutting down the government. No need. Let everything else be funded as usual, and just don't give anything to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the cabinet department whose subordinate agencies — particularly the immigration benefits granting component, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) – will be doing the heavy lifting of this administrative amnesty.
3) Use Rescission. At even the first whiff of any indicator that the administration is running off the rails and misapplying any appropriated funds to move forward on its executive actions or, most especially, its fee monies (such as those collected and used by USCIS), pull the bucks back, put them straight into the Treasury bottle and clap a tight stopper on it.
4) Legislate. The president has double-dog-dared you to "pass a bill". Go for it. Just don't give him the bill he wants. And especially don't dredge up the godawful Gang-of-Eight Frankenstein's monster. Instead, take advantage of the great work that's already been done in the House. I'm thinking particularly of the SAFE Act, which has been put on the shelf. Wait until you've got your majority in both houses, pass it, send it to the president's desk, and let him do as he wishes: sign it or veto it. As I see it, either way you win. If he signs, you get a decent immigration bill to begin the process of real reform and security, both at the border and in the interior. If he vetoes it after all the caterwauling about "send me a bill" what will the public think? It will prove he and his cohorts were only ever serious about that portion of immigration "reform" that involves amnesties and giveaways.
5) Listen. There are a lot of smart, well-informed people where immigration is concerned – some inside the beltway, and others throughout the four corners of the country. Take some time to seek them out and ask for their views. But be prepared to hear them at some length; don't just ask for indigestible 30-second sound bites of wisdom.