Well, that was an interesting spectacle in the well of the Senate today. Normally we are used to seeing Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer standing at their lecterns, never even acknowledging each others existence on the planet, and using $6 words to call each other every kid of asshole there is. The sight of the two of them standing there and complimenting each other reminded me of that scene in “Addams Family Values,” where Wednesday tries to smile. The very concept of it is so foreign to the character that the result is ghastly.
I got a huge kick today in listening to Yertl the Turtle extolling on the virtue of finally freeing themselves from the odious shackles of sequestration, which had threatened to strangle our military might, without ever getting around to acknowledging that he and his party were the shit stains who saddled us with them in the first place, in a government default fight around Christmastime a few years ago. My hypocrisy meter rose to 11.
But then McConnell said something that tingled as it whispered through the hair sprouting from my ears. He decided to remind everybody that he had not forgotten his promise in the last CR battle. He said that he would be introducing DACA legislation next week, and that it would NOT have underlying immigration language in the text. I wanted to make sure, so I grabbed my Polispeak-English dictionary, and that phrase seems to indicate that McConnell is saying that he will bring to the floor something resembling a clean DACA bill, free of funding-the-fucking-wall, ending-chain-migration doublespeak .
What the hell is going on here? Did McConnell’s voice suddenly stop cracking? Did he finally have the epiphany that he’s big enough now to kick the crap out of the old man? Did he get a spine transplant on the quiet at the GOP retreat? Dumbledork just threatened to shut down the government if tanning salons don’t go broke because nobody wants to be dark enough to be mistaken for a Hispanic, and McConnell is saying that next week he’s gonna deal with the Dreamers as a separate issue, and hurling Mexicans across the Rio Grande with catapults can wait until the 6th of Never.
Look, I’m no political savant, if I picked up on this, you can bet the White House heard it loud and clear too. If he does this, he has sprung the bear trap on Trumpelthinskin’s paw. Trump has snarled about the necessity of ending the visa lottery, shattering immigrant families, and building his stupid wall at every opportunity. But McConnell has a hole card to flip over. And that hole card is The Clueless Wonder, sitting at a conference table in the cabinet room, surrounded by lawmakers, spouting like a sperm whale about how he’ll sign any DACA fix congress sent him, he wasn’t gonna ask for bulk filler.Trump is in a box. If McConnell gets a clean fix through and Trump vetoes it, he’s anti immigrant, and the GOP will pay for it in November. And if he signs it without getting anything for it, his racist base will rebel and sit out November. Checkmate.
But Trump isn’t the only one, McConnell has put a legislative shiv to Paul Ryan’s throat too. I have no doubt that the Senate will pass a moderate, clean DACA bill. Then the ball is in Ryan’s court. 71% of Americans want a DACA fix, and this time there will be no government shutdown cover for Ryan. If he scuttles the bill in the House, he threatens every one of his 200+ members running for reelection who are not teahadists. And if he calls it to the floor for a clean, up or down vote, it will pass with mammoth Democratic support, placing his Speakership in jeopardy. To my mind, if Ryan brings the bill to the floor for debate and a vote, that is a strong signal that he’s actually packing it in and not running for reelection. To go for another term after that would be to risk going full Eric Cantor, and being ousted in a primary.
As with all things political, the proof will be in the pudding. But if McConnell is good to his word, and brings a sane DACA bill to the floor sometime next week, we are going to be presented with the unprecedented sight of Senate Democrats clapping Mitch McConnell on the back, and buying him rounds, all the while casting smug, “see-I-told-you-so” glances at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and giving Paul Ryan wedgies in the hall. Don’t touch that dial.