"You can attribute some of the success of the current immigration bill to President Obama’s absence from the debate. A large number of Republicans are simply unable or unwilling to support a proposal that has Obama’s name attached. By stepping away from the process and leaving it to Democratic and Republican lawmakers in the Senate, Obama set the stage for cooperation and allowed a chance for success—a permission structure, as it were. . . . If Obama wants comprehensive immigration reform to pass, he needs to stay completely out of the way. If he wants to claim some credit, he can do so at the signing."Got that? Bouie isn't just rejecting the much-derided "green lantern" theory of presidential power according to which any president worth his salt should have the leadership capacity to bend Congress to his will on the issues that matter most to him. Bouie is saying that, just seven months after his decisive reelection, Obama's giving voice to his policy preferences respecting a major plank of his reelection platform makes them less likely to be enacted into law. If we could quantify Obama's presidential power with respect to one of his most urgent priorities, on Bouie's view the number isn't just smaller than some people think, it's negative.
How can it be that the man recently elected to the most powerful office in our political system has less-than-no-power respecting an issue so dear to his heart? Bouie thinks it's a matter of Republican perversity: "If this sounds dramatic," he observes, "then you are drastically underestimating the anti-Obama furor of the Republican base, which has ended political careers for the sin of being friendly with the president."
Before the last election you could explain "anti-Obama furor" among Republicans in terms of electoral expedience. But now that he has won his second term, its persistence is plainly irrational. On Bouie's view, Republicans are ready to forgo something that they would otherwise want (viz., their share of credit for bipartisan immigration reform) just because Obama wants some (plainly undeserved) credit too that might burnish his legacy but won't redound to Republicans' political disadvantage.
That's the sort of phenomenon that you'd have to resort to complicated and not very compelling principles of psycho-pathology to explain when a much simpler explanation lies ready at hand: namely, that Obama isn't a very effective president.