Saturday, March 21, 2015

Reflections, Obervations, and Analysis From Israeli Elections

 
I am political junkie and with the exception of the constant barrage of negative ad campaigns, I love the election process.  The polling, the analysis, the strategy; it’s great theater and drama.  This week, I was able to experience an Israeli Parliamentary election for the first time, and if you think American elections have drama and political gamesmanship, it can pale in comparison to the Israeli version with its 10 or so competitive parties.  And while there was great disappointment in the Israeli left, likewise on the U.S. left, the drama created from a “too close to call” on election night to a comfortable win by Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party the next morning offered flashbacks to US Presidential elections in 2000 and 2004.  It was a frantic and frenetic final 72 hours indeed.

But first a little background on Israel and parliamentary elections.  Unlike in the U.S., where the electorate directly chooses the executive and legislative representatives from two major parties, in Israel the electorate choses from dozens of parties to fill the 120 seats in the Knesset (aka Parliament or Congress).  The heads of the parties are determined in primaries. Seats in the Knesset are awarded based on a percentage of total votes cast and in order for a party to get at least one seat, it must cross a minimum threshold of vote percentage.  The 20th Knesset will be sworn in on March 31st based on the results of Tuesday’s election and will include representatives from ten different parties ranging from the left wing Meretz to the right wing religious United Torah Judaism (UTJ).  The individuals who now represent the various parties are chosen ahead of the election when each party submits a list ranking the MK’s (Ministers of the Knesset).  If a party wins four seats, the top four in that party’s list will become a member of the Knesset.

But this only addresses the composition of the Knesset.  By Israel’s Parliamentary rules, if a single party can get a majority of the votes (61 out of 120), it’s leader is appointed Prime Minister.  In the history of Israel, that has never happened.  Instead, a coalition government is formed, through a series of back office promises, deals, and negotiations.  Once the election results are established, the President of Israel (today it is Reuven Rivlin) determines who will be given the opportunity to form a coalition. (The President is elected to one term of seven years by a majority in the Knesset.  He is not elected by the citizens and while the Presidency in Israel is primarily a figurehead position, it does carry significant power when it comes to elections and the dissolution and formation of governments.)  After consulting with senior MK’s, the President will ask the Minister with the best chance of forming a government to do so and is given 4 weeks (plus a two week extension if necessary). If he is unsuccessful, the President may give a second choice 28 days to form a government, if the President feels the current composition of the Knesset cannot create a government (61 seat majority), he may call for a unity government of several parties that may include a power sharing provision or he may call for new elections.

So how did we get where we are today?  In December last year, the 19th Knesset voted to dissolve after the Netanyahu-led coalition fractured.   President Rivlin called for elections on March 17th and the scrambling began led by three major events: The Arab Parties created the Joint List, a larger bloc of smaller Arab parties to make sure they would exceed the election threshold while becoming a coalition forming or leading opposition party, the center left Labor and Hatnua parties merged to form the Zionist Union led by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, and Moshe Kahlon split from Likud and in November established the Kulanu Party to champion social causes such as income inequality.  The table was set for a sharply contested and compressed campaign where consolidations by the Arabs and center-left created formidable blocs and the right seemed to be fracturing.

What happened in the last 72 hours leading up to the election and what happened on election day could have pulled right from the 2004 Presidential Election in America, with a little bit of 2000 too.  In Israel, there is a 72 hour blackout of polling preceding election day so many people and pundits were still hanging on the last available polling data that indicated that the Zionist Camp was slightly ahead of Netanyahu’s Likud party, and the Arab List was holding its own in third place with Lapid’s Center Right Yesh Atid party (a former coalition member of Netanyahu’s).  Clearly the polling results worried Netanyahu as it appeared his controversial speech to the Joint US Congress had yielded little or no election benefit and sensing possible defeat.  This necessitatied his US-based campaign bankroll, Sheldon Adelson to fly to Tel Aviv meet with Bibi’s campaign team at the Dan Tel Aviv where I happened to be staying.  Yes the same Adelson who donated $100Million to the Romney campaign and owns the Israeli newspaper Israel Ha Yom, which serves as a Netanyahu campaign and PR sheet.  To their credit, Netanyahu’s campaign team stepped up its game at the end.  In campaign ads, public appearances, and interviews Bibi hit the opposition as weak (Herzog) and fickle (Livni), while telling all, he was the only guy who could defend Israel from Iran, ISIS, Hamas, and the other threats.  Yes, the fear card was played over and over and while it may have targeted a few undecided, the message was really aimed at the right wing electorate who may have been voting for Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi), Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu), and Kahlon (Kulanu).  His campaign ads showing him as the only adult and his competitors as children were effective, while the Chuck Norris’s video to Israelis to vote for Bibi was essentially mocked by most. But the big card that Netanyahu played was his clear reversal on the two state solution when he told Israeli News Site, NRG, "Anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state, anyone who is going to evacuate territories today, is simply giving a base for attacks to the radical Islam against Israel."  This seemed to conflict with his speech in 2009 at Bar-Ilan University where he supported the two state solution and the Begin-Sadat agreement.  This message was clearly targeting Bennett’s supporters in the settlements who violently oppose a Palestinian State.  As we say in the states, Bibi was clearly trying to shore up his base and peel off right wing voters from his coalition partners.

Meanwhile on the left, the Joint Arab List, which had been polling exceptionally strong, was hoping for a record turn out on election day for the 800,000+ registered Arab voters (~15% of the total Israeli electorate) versus historical apathetic voter turnout. And suddenly within the Zionist Camp there was growing concern that Netanyahu and Likud were gaining momentum after his late stage appeal to the right.  As I had speculated weeks ago, Herzog and Livni renounced their previous agreement that they would rotate the Prime Ministership if they won.  Instead, Herzog would be the sole head of government, a decision based on internal polling that indicated that the polarizing Livni was a drag on the ‘ticket’ and if she was out of the picture, the Zionist Camp could draw in more from the center parties of Kulanu and Yesh Atid and possible get some Arab votes and liberal votes from the dovish Meretz party.   But unlike Netanyahu who sought to poach voters from other right wing parties, Herzog did not aggressively try to peel off voters from Yesh Atid, a significant center bloc.  

There was definitely a buzz on Tuesday, March 17th  in Tel Aviv for election morning, a secular holiday in Israel, as many believed change was coming; and coupled with St. Patrick’s Day partying, the city was alive. Israeli polls opened at 7am and would close at 10pm for the 5,881,696 eligible voters, 5.3million of which are residents of Israel, and there was expectation that voter turnout would exceed the 67.8% from the 2013 elections.  There were 25 lists of candidates (imagine that America?) totaling 1,280 candidates for the Knesset, including the one man list of Protecting Our Children – Stop Feeding Them Pornography. Voting would be conducted at 10,372 polls around the country including army bases. Prisons (yes inmates can vote in Israel), hospitals, 2,693 specifically for the physically disabled and another 1,548 for those with limited mobility. The cost of the election was $59.7million and would be supervised by the Central Election Committee.  Exit polls would be announced immediately at 10pm and actual tallies, from the manual count would be known in the morning.  

The battle lines had been drawn, hope versus fear, change versus status quo, and liberal elite versus settler.  There were issues: Iran, cost of living, cost of housing, undocumented migrants, Palestinian statehood, US relations, and worldwide isolation.  Stay the course with Likud or try something new?  The devil you know versus the devil you don’t.  Could Herzog really lead us?  Is he strong enough?  What has Bibi done for us?  “We may not like Obama, but we need the US and Bibi is damaging that relationship”, was a constant refrain. There were reports of ballot stealing, voter intimidation, voter obstruction, outside agitators, false advertisements, and the usual mix of election shenanigans. As election day continued, Netanyahu and Likud became nervous going as far to use social media to get out the vote: “The right-wing government is in danger," Netanyahu wrote in a Facebook past, “Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls. Left-wing organizations are busing them out." And thus two news stories were created, Bibi race bating with the use of “Arabs”, who ARE Israeli citizens and have every right to vote, and the claims that outside organizations, NGO’s, were trying to influence the vote.  Allegations that the State Department was funding an Israeli organization via the OneVoice NGO to help unseat Netanyahu.  In response to Bibi’s call to voters, Joint List candidate and MK Dov Khenin stated "A prime minister who campaigns against voting by citizens belonging to an ethnic minority is crossing a red line of incitement and racism." 

When the exit polls were released at 10pm, there was surprise in the closeness of the race and disappointment on the left.  Exit polls from the three major TV stations were very similar:

 

An essential dead heat at the top and the Arab Party slightly ahead of Yesh Atid.  Bennet’s pro-settler party and Kahlon’s breakaway party (from Likud) were safely in 5th and 6th.  The religious right parties were next followed by terribly disappointing results from Liberman’s corruption-scarred Yisrael Beitenu and the feeble dovish Meretz.  Pundits immediately started doing the math to see how a coalition could be formed and whether a unity government with Likud and Zionist Union was possible.  What was clear was the hopes of a left leading coalition government were in jeopardy as Bibi’s path to 61 votes was going to be a lot easier: Likud (27) + Yesh Atid (11) + Jewish Home (8) + Kulanu (10) + Shas (7) + UTJ (6) + Israel Beitenu (5).  But there are no guarantees and perhaps Bibi wouldn’t be able to form the coalition.  Soon the surprise and disappointment on the left would turn to horror in the morning.

Many Israelis, and me, woke the next morning to see that the actual vote was a death blow to the left and anti-Netanyahu crowds.  There was no dead heat, instead Likud had clearly defeated the Zionist Camp (Union) 30-24.  There would be no Herzog led coalition, there would be no unity government.  Bibi had rolled the dice and disbanded his government and was rewarded with four new years and the options to form broad coalition or a narrow right wing coalition.



But what happened over the last 72 hours and how did the exit polls miss it so badly?  With regards to the former, Netanyahu’s last ditch attack plan to consolidate the right under him and stoking fears got the rightist vote out in his favor.  Throughout the day, voter turnout had been running on par with 2013 election results, but in the last two hours after turnout calculations ended, a spike in turnout occurred which was likely due to his plea to counter the Arab turnout numbers.  This may have understated the strength in Likud’s numbers.  Additionally, as America experienced in 2004, what someone tells a pollster after voting and what they actually did in the booth are not necessarily the same.  When the media was reporting higher numbers for John Kerry in 2004 based on exit polls, there was cautious optimism on the left; the same phenomena was playing out in Israel on Tuesday.  At the end of the day, turnout was higher than the previous four Parliamentary Elections, but well short of the 78.7% from 1999. 



The bigger issue, was likely pollster bias, not personal bias, but statistical bias.  As I mentioned above and throughout the week via my Tweets, Tel Aviv, while Israel’s 2nd largest city and media capital, polling results can often be swayed by oversampling and overweighting the city on the Med.  Analogous to the Beltway America and the ‘Real’ America, there seems to be an Israel and a ‘Real’ Israel dynamic.  The actual voting results showed Likud’s national strength versus Zionist Union’s local strength.  Some examples:

Tel Aviv (highly secular)
Zionist Union: 34%
Likud: 18%
Meretz: 13%
Yesh Atid: 12%

Jerusalem (highly religious)
Likud: 24%
UTJ: 21%
Yahad: 7%
Shas: 12%

Haifa (secular)
Zionist Union: 25%
Likud: 21%
Yesh Atid: 11%

As expected, Jewish Home (Bayit Yehudi) scored well in the settler communities, Arab Joint List dominated Arab communities like Nazareth, and the Haredi (Orthodox) parties did well in the religious enclaves.  But where religion and ethnic factors were not in play, Likud got the better of the Zionist Union in the smaller cities such as Netanya, Ariel, and Beersheba.  Though it was interesting that the border communities hit the hardest by Gazan rockets from Hamas went out in big numbers for Herzog and the Zionist Union,  but in Sderot, Likud won convincingly.

At the end of the day, the wealthy and elite went out for Zionist Union, the working class and settlers went out for Likud, and the religious went with UTJ and Shas. Some estimates believe ~200,000 settlers went and voted for Likud over Jewish Home to make sure Herzog and his Zionist Union were defeated.  Take that people who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000. 

In hindsight, Bibi ran a better campaign, Herzog was too passive, pollsters got it wrong, the anyone-but-Bibi campaign was a failure, people voted against their own interests, and while only the size of New Jersey, Israel’s electorate is not homogenous.

In the aftermath, Netanyahu has already started to walk back his anti-two state solution rhetoric from the last days of the campaign.  Israel will face increased isolation from the rest of the world.  The Obama administration’s disappointment and animus toward Netanyahu could lead to problems at the UN for Israel.  John Boehner will participate in a victory lap in Israel later this month, and Sarah Palin will break out her Magen David to celebrate and show off her allegiance to Bibi.

Ha’aretz contributor and author Ari Shavit questioned on election day “Will we continue to let fear rule us, or will we chose hope?”  It seems the electorate chose the former, this time.

 




 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Diggaprediction: Enjoy The Debates


 

It’s that time of the year when the prognosticators start sharing their 2015 predictions with the rest of us mere mortals.  Yes the omnipotent and omnipresent soothsayers with unprecedented data at their disposal will make political, economic, sports, entertainment, geopolitical, and even weather predictions.  Some will go bold like a 30% correction in the stock market, some will play it safe saying the San Francisco Giants will contend, some will go specific “Jeb Bush will be the front runner at the end of the year”, and some will go vague “President Obama and Congress will disagree.”

So here we go with the Diggapredictions for the insane, unstable, and those generally in need of help:

  1. Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN will focus solely on ratings at the expense of quality news coverage.  In the run up to the 2016 presidential election these networks will reach new heights of polarized political prose like cheerleaders.  The love triangle between Joe Scarborough, Chris Christie, and Jeb Bush will play out every morning like a General Hospital story arc.
  2. While on network news, expect to see 40 minutes of commercials for 20 minutes of news, where 90% of the commercials will focus on over-the-counter and prescription drugs to address 24 hour erections that make your legs restless and lead to fungus under your toenails requiring you and your partner to sit in twin bath tubs.
  3. The NFL and its puppet master Roger Goodell will continue to pay lip service to domestic violence, player safety, and other issues that could threaten the money making machine. 
  4. As Obamacare becomes more ingrained and established and Americans opposition continues to move from repeal to tweak, Boehner and McConnell will have to balance and juggle the loud mouthed right calling for repeal and the moderates looking to tweak.
  5. There will be prolific sound bites and buffoonery during the presidential debates that will cause a revolving door of front runners from debate to debate. A full 18 months before the election, the circus will commence with the first debates.  Keep the clown car running folks.
  6. President Obama will be called weak, indecisive, aloof, tyrannical, socialist, anti-capitalist, anti-Israel, Muslim, anti-America, race baiter, and appeaser…all before January 3rd.
  7. Economists will be the worst predictors again.  They’ll miss GDP, employment, and inflation numbers so badly on monthly and quarterly regularity only to blame things like the weather, commodities, BRICS, Europe, and solar flares for their inaccuracies.
  8. Political infighting will not solely on the right.  The Progressive left, energized by Elizabeth Warren, will have its share of disagreements with the party leadership, especially those with close ties to Wall Street (psst that’s you Schumer).
  9. Polls Polls Polls…get ready for head-to-head polls between the parties, popularity polls within the parties, approval ratings, direction of country…more polls than all of Tampa’s strip joints.  ORC/CNN, WSJ, NBC, ABC, CBS, NY Times, Quinnipiac, PPP, Rasmussen, Sabato, Economist, and many more will inundate us with polling data and margins of error.
  10. If there’s an immigration deal, no one will get what they want and the respective bases in both parties will despair over the compromise and perceived capitulation.  If you thought deal making and compromise were difficult to begin with, watch each candidate carefully watch his words and their votes (for Congressional members) to avoid self-inflicted wounds.

Yes I did not go out on a limb on any of the above, and I probably deserve a few “No Shit Sherlocks”.  Just sit back and enjoy the show and wait for the I told you so.  The blame will be allocated, the credit seized, and responsibility avoided.  Woulda coulda shoulda will be in vogue, and many will go from being “taken out of context” to “really I was only joking”.

It’s America where the media makes sure people are entitled to their own opinions and their own facts.  When that’s the case, how can anyone ever make a bad prediction?

 

 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Festivus Tradition: Airing the Grievances




“I got a lot of problems with you people! And now you're gonna hear about it!

  • Rudy Giuliani: You’ve gone from America’s Mayor to a political hack who ends up on the wrong end of PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter more than Michelle Bachmann.  But telling Fox News that President Obama has said “everybody should hate the police”, is a sign of either an irrational mind or a political ignoramus.
  • Steve Kornacki: Please get some adult eyeglasses to replace the elementary school ones you’re still wearing.
  • Phil Simms, Jim Nantz, and Joe Buck: Seinfeld was a show about nothing which equals the substance of your play-by-play and analysis.
  • MSNBC, CNN, and FoxNews: In your quest for ratings you gave us sensationalism, demographic ass-kissing, political pandering, you've created an appreciation for Al Jazeera and the BBC.
  • Elizabeth Lauten: Another political hack who thought it would be a good idea to attack Malia and Sasha to try and score some political points.
  • NYPD Union President Patrick Lynch: For stoking even more hatred and suspicion in NYC with your caustic vitriol.
  • Katrina vanden Heuvel and Stephen F. Cohen: Vladimir Putin’s chief apologists and PR champions
  • Bibi Netanyahu and Neftali Bennett: Two Israeli politicians that are doing more to destroy Israel than Hamas ever could.
  • The Harbaugh Brothers: Belichick is no prize, but he wins consistently, while you guys just seem to bitch consistently.
  • Sepp Blatter: FIFA President and the poster child for athletic organization corruption.
  • Marco Rubio: For thinking our nation interests are seconded to Cuban-American feelings and opinions.
  • Hollywood: For making nothing but comic book and special effects garbage and forgetting us adults like to be challenged, entertained, and emotionally engaged in films.
  • Roger Goodell: Burying the truth about concussions and brain trauma is unforgiveable, but your double dealing ass covering BS on the Ray Rice and soon to be further exposed Adrian Peterson scandals show a guy that will do anything to cover his ass.
  • Dick Cheney: For spinning more lies, spewing more hate, and all the while getting rich off his ginned up war.
  • The American Electorate: You bitch about the government and yet only 36.4% turned out to vote in the 2014 midterms
  • Andrew J. Cohen & : For writing Neighbors, a  90 minute steaming pile of crap
  • American Airlines: For calling this food.

 

 
  • Diggaduh: For questioning the almighty Hoodie after the Chiefs game.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Getting some stuff off my chest


Some things to get off my chest and out of the mental inbox:

Mike Rogers (MI-R) was one of the first to call out President Obama on his vacation to Hawaii.  “Saying ‘aloha’ and getting on the plane to Hawaii is not the answer.  I don’t think that’s enough. North Korea attacked, then threatened violence.” That’s rich from a leading member of the 113th Congress, a body that was in session for a total of 133 days in 2014.  Rogers needs to worry about his own ineptness and politicized bullshit and less about the guy who HAS kept America safe.

And then there’s Rosie O’Donnell who was selling artwork on her website claiming to be images of Gazan children, when in reality they were images from Syria.  O’Donnell initially defended her decision to sell the artwork on her website, then due to public pressure subsequently removed them.  O’Donnell is entitled to her own opinion, but she isn’t entitled to her own facts.

Which brings me to The View, featuring O’Donnell, Rosie Perez, Nicole Wallace, and Whoopi Goldberg.  This eclectic group of loud partisan opinionated voices is as bad as combining MSNBC’s The Cycle, CNN’s Crossfire, and Fox’s Fox and Friends.  Always loud and with a heavy dose of ignorance.  I caught one five minute segment on race, and that was enough.

But I shouldn't be too hard on The View, as they are just a symptom of the disease, the disease of politicization.  It seems there is not issue small enough or crisis big  enough that cannot go without it being politicized.  Now I get that politics is a full time job for many professionals and the electorate for the most part, are ill-equipped amateurs.  But everything is now politicized, and I’m not talking about solely about the big issues, I am talking about every issue: Benghazi, IRS, Cuba, Ebola, Russia, climate change, immigration, energy policy, etc.  Now, we have managed to politicize race to the extent where conservatives claim President Obama’s election ended racism and yet President Obama’s administration has made racism worse. 

Memo to Marco Rubio and Florida’s Cuban-American communities: normalizing relations with Cuba isn’t just about you.  We have fought wars with nations that we now have relations with, and spare me the human rights argument as you watch Hannity online on your Chinese made iPad. 

Patrick Lynch, President of the NYPD’s Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association maybe the biggest jackass I have seen on TV in some time, and I watch  a lot of TV. His claim "That blood on the hands starts on the steps of city hall in the office of the mayor." shows how ignorance and inflammatory language by those in power is a dangerous mixture.  Of course Lynch is a political union hack who has a history of defending criminal activity by police and attacking anyone who criticizes the men in blue. 


Yes, lots of noise coming from the few that drown out the voice of the many.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Digg's Top 15, errr 16, top songs of 2014


Top 15 new songs for 2014.  You will not find Taylor Swift, Robin Thicke, or any Hip Hop on this list.

15) Tie: Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene (Hozier) & Cardiac Arrest (Bad Suns)
14) Fire (Gavin DeGraw)
13) Dark Sunglasses (Chrissie Hynde)
12) I Wanna Get Better (Bleachers)
11) Tell The World (Eric Hutchinson)
10) California [Cast Iron Soul] (Jamestown Revival)
9) You Haunt Me (Sir Sly)
8) Back Home (Andy Grammer)
7) Shut Up and Dance (WALK THE MOON)
6) New York Morning (Elbow)
5) Don’t Look Back (Augustines)
4) Drive-in Movies (Ray LaMontagne)
3) Let’s Get Drunk and Get It On (Old 97’s)
2) Ghost (Jeremy Messersmith)
1) Red Eyes (The War on Drugs)

You're all I've got to wait
You're running in the dark
when I come to my sense
Well you can see it through the darkness
coming my way
Well we won't get lost inside again babe







Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Pictures Worth A Thousand Words

You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.  I call the Obama presidency successful while Bush…err not so much.



The hit Brandon Browner delivered to Ladarius Green was brutal, but of the NFL is serious about protecting players, it would mandate teams use the safest helmet and equipment available.  Until then, it’s nothing but lip service and window dressing.



 "I respect Derrick Rose and all of our players for voicing their personal views on important issues but my preference would be for players to abide by our on court attire rules." NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said.  Yes Mr. Silver, your contract with Adidas is more important than crucial social commentary, necessary activism, and personal expression.



Sovereign nation extremists point guns at U.S. Marshalls, but 12 year old Tamir Rice with a pellet gun is the real public threat.



Conservatives like to call themselves the law and order Americans especially when it comes to immigration.  Yet several of them seem to sympathize with Eric Garner because they view him as someone who stood up to excessive taxes.  So it appears that according to conservatives, we are a nation of laws…when it suits a political aim.



Apparently the Ebola outbreak has gone the way of Malaysia Airlines flight 370.  The media may not feel the story is still worthy of reporting, but in Sierra Leone it’s not only newsworthy, it’s a tragedy.




Frackers vs the Sheiks…race to the bottom.  But that’s good news for Americans who will see the price drops at the pump put is they will see hundreds of dollars more in their wallets which will likely stimulate the economy further.  As for the Saudis, the likely outcome of the price war is consolidation in the North American oil producers as the strong will consume the weak.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

It’s politics stupid.


Why did President Obama suddenly change course on immigration and “go it alone”?  Politics of course.  The next election is still two years away, but the campaign and debate season starts long before the election and now he has put Republicans on the defensive again.  Although the President’s record on immigration has been checkered with increased deportations and lack of progress on immigration reform, he has kept the Democrats as the preferred choice of Hispanics.  The dreams of Reagan and H.W. Bush to champion immigration reform and make the Republican Party, the party of immigrants, especially Hispanics, have turned into nightmares thanks to the overly nativist ultraconservative wing that influences the GOP. Reagan once quipped "Latinos are Republicans. They just don't know it yet."  Perhaps today the more applicable quote is “Republicans are doomed.  They just don’t know it yet.”

In addition to keeping the Hispanic electorate away from the Republicans, the ever so pliable media will now seek out Republican leaders, especially Speaker Boehner, and ask when the House will take up the immigration reform bill that passed the Senate 62-38?  While the GOP responds with its “executive amnesty” and “Emperor Obama” talking points, they will be exposed and forced to respond to questions about what they plan on doing, and with every response will come a potential sound bite for Democratic campaign staffers.  If Boehner decides to move forward with legislation, he runs the risk of upsetting the “Yahoo Wing” of the party and its militant active base.
Thirdly, by keeping immigration reform on the front burner, President Obama has once again driven a wedge between the potential 2016 GOP candidates with John Kasich,  Jeb Bush and Chris Christie separated from Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and the rest of the ultraconservatives.  The more wedge issues like immigration are used to define the GOP, the longer they will be on the defensive and the harder it will be for its candidates to run primary and general election campaigns.  You can only go to the etch-a-sketch so often.


To love politics is to be a cynic.   And while many celebrate the words and acts of our favorite political leaders, make no mistake about it, there is always a political angle that motivates.  Perhaps that is why our voter turnout numbers are chronically low, and why so many Americans simply tune out the noise from DC.  Nonetheless, Machiavelli would surely love this move by President Obama. 

It's just politics.