April 19, 2013


Obama's Three Fateful Leadership Tests (Ezra Klein, Apr 17, 2013, Bloomberg)

Backseat Leader

This is largely the approach the White House has taken to immigration reform. Early in the process, Obama gave some speeches and made his support clear. Since then, he has let the Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Eight" take the lead. As a result, if an immigration bill is passed, much credit will go to Senator John McCain, who opposed Obama in 2008, Senator Marco Rubio, who appears likely to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, and Democratic Senator Charles Schumer. Insofar as Obama leads at all on the issue, he leads from behind. Yet immigration reform keeps grinding forward.

Indeed, of these three issues, immigration is in the best shape. The centerpiece of the gun-control bill, expanded background checks, has fallen apart in the Senate. It's too early to say what the final outcome will be on a budget deal. Obama's efforts have led to encouraging comments from Republicans who were happy to be invited to dinner and glad to see entitlement cuts in the president's budget, but who are nowhere near proposing concessions of their own. Immigration, meanwhile, is moving forward, and insiders are more optimistic today than they were a month ago.

Of course, this isn't a real A/B/C test. Immigration, gun control and the budget are different issues subject to different political dynamics. It's certainly easier to lead from behind on something like immigration reform, where crucial Republicans have decided they have a strong incentive to step up.

Posted by at April 19, 2013 5:20 AM

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