For the White House, immigration reform perfectly encapsulates the most frustrating reality of President Barack Obama’s second term: If it’s to be a success, Obama needs to stay out of the lawmaking process.
That’s the message he’s gotten from Democratic and Republican legislators alike. In the New Yorker, Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey recounted a White House meeting at which he told Obama how Republicans would respond to public appeals on immigration. “Right now, if you put out your bill, they will feel like they’re being cornered,” he said.
Obama wasn’t happy, Menendez recalled. “He basically said, ‘After you guys pushed me so hard in not so subtle tones, being critical at times about lacking leadership, now you’re asking me to hold off?’ And so we took the browbeating for a little while and then I went back and said, ‘I understand why you’re upset and how you might feel this way.’”