NBC’s Chuck Todd recognized what even the President doesn’t seem to get. That the Republican landslide on Election Day should’ve “put an end” to Barack Obama acting alone on immigration reform via an executive order.
Appearing on MSNBC’s live election night coverage the Meet the Press host agreed with Republican strategist Steve Schmidt that if Obama bypassed the Republican congress on immigration reform it would look like “Caesarism.” Todd added: “The president is going to know that if he does this, he is starting a war, political war in Washington between the White House and the Republican congress.”
The question has to be asked: Will Todd maintain this position if Obama actually follows through on an executive order?
The following exchange was aired during MSNBC’s live coverage of election results, just a few minutes after 12:00am EST on November 5:
STEVE SCHMIDT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well look this is a rejection of the president and his policies, not a buy-in to the Republican agenda, simply because we didn’t have much of an agenda other than asking people to vote against the, the president in race after race. I do think one of the interesting aspects in the immediate future –- and I say this as someone who has been a long-time advocate of immigration reform -- I don’t think it’s possible for Republicans to be a national party, getting 27 percent of the Hispanic vote. We need to get 40 percent in order to win.
I will say this. After this election the notion that the President of the United States, by administrative fiat, by executive order, is going to wipe away the nation’s immigration laws and legalize 7 million people plus by executive order I think would be an extraordinarily provocative act, incredibly divisive. And I think that this is an issue that is immediately in front of the new congress potentially in the lame duck by the president. And I think his actions in that space will very much set the tone for the remaining two years of the administration. Will he act in a conciliatory way or not?
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Is that a deal breaker? Is that gonna make sure he goes out there and does it by fiat, basically by EO and he legalizes x many people, millions of people and basically says “I don’t need a bill from you guys, I’m gonna do it myself by power.” You know he does have that parole power. He’ll just do it. Does that mean no more deals? Is that an end to the game?
RACHEL MADDOW: What deals?
MATTHEWS: I’m asking!
SCHMIDT: Well look I suspect it is. I think we live in a constitutional republic and what that is, in my view, is Caesarism.
SCHMIDT: The president doesn’t have that authority. It is a grotesque overreach of the executive authority. And again I say that as someone who believes the Hastert rule in the House is pernicious. That the votes exist in the House to pass immigration reform. But the way we change immigration laws in this country is through the legislative process -
MADDOW: But Steve -
SCHMIDT: - not by administrative fiat. And you don’t change the immigration laws by saying “Hey we’re frustrated with the process because we can’t get something through. And this was the point that Chris was making earlier.
You know the issue with the immigration bill - you know the Republicans certainly, we have our fair share of blame - again as an advocate for it. You know but the president has not been able to get this done from a leadership perspective and has accountability in that space -
MADDOW: Can? Can? I have to say though. For, for how much I've enjoyed talking to you about this over the years and how much I think that you’re right in terms of your personal politics. I think your out over your skis in terms of what the president has done and whether it’s Caesarism. The president hasn’t done anything, nor has the president talked specifically about what he’s going to do, nor has he talked ever about changing laws, nor could he do so legally. So the president has talked about what’s within his administrative power to do. He says that’s the limits of what he’s going to consider.
CHUCK TODD: Yeah but I think politically -
MADDOW: Politically? Yes.
TODD: - I’m with Steve here I think tonight -
MADDOW: Legally and whether or not he’s a dictator? Come on.
TODD: No, no I hear you. That legally he could do some of the things he wants to do here. I think politically, tonight, it put an end to it. I don’t think - because it would be a provocative act politically. The country in many ways -
MADDOW: No matter what he does?
TODD: On this front I think that you have a Republican party who - while I think a lot of them want to work with him on tax policy, trade, there’s some things I think you’ll see. I think they think that immigration will tear their own party apart.
TODD: And I think that they will feel they have to confront the president here. What I’m saying is the president is going to know that if he does this, he is starting a war, political war in Washington between the White House and the Republican congress.
MATTHEWS: But the -
TODD: He was, he’d be, I’m not - I understand what you’re saying. That you can be technically legally correct. It would just start a political war in Washington.