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June 28, 2013 10:42 AM Hey, Immigration Reporters! Will “Blame Both Sides” Work?

By Jonathan Bernstein

Brian Beutler has a nice piece today arguing that Republicans are already turning towards blaming Barack Obama and the Democrats for the collapse of the immigration bill.

Here’s my question: is there anyone out there listening?

Presumably, the target for this sort of thing is neutral Latino opinion leaders — not a large group, but a non-zero one — who are open to a “blame both sides” argument. Maybe even Republican Latino opinion leaders who are willing to accept a lot, but not everything.

It seems to me (and I’m working from memory here, but I think I’m correct) that in fact Republicans had some success during Obama’s first term in blaming him for the lack of progress on immigration. Of course, the facts were a little different then; Obama and the Democrats weren’t pushing a comprehensive bill, and Obama’s administration was in fact disappointing to Hispanics on deportations and other border issues. Sure, Democrats had an argument (support for DREAM Act, and that Republicans were even worse and were blocking them from even trying for a major bill), but at any rate my strong impression is that Republican spin was at least somewhat successful.

So: Hey, reporters! I don’t care what whether the arguments Republicans are going to make hold water or not; I want to know whether they’ll work. What’s up with those Latino opinion leaders who took a “blame both sides” view of immigration reform during Obama’s first term? Are they open to the arguments that Obama wants to sabotage the bill in order to have the issue for 2014? Or are they going to shift from “blame both sides” to “blame House Republicans”?

[Cross-posted at A plain blog about politics]

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics, especially the presidency, Congress, parties, and elections.