There’s no contest for the big winners this week. Fresh from a deal on the debt ceiling that chopped the legs out from under hard-line GOP budget hawks, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) got President Trump to sign onto a deal to fix DACA and allow these young immigrants to remain in the country (what Trump used to call “amnesty”). As a bonus, they prodded him to decouple his wall-building wish from a DACA fix.
The deal did three things. First, it reminded everyone in the media and both sides of the aisle that Trump is so desperate for approval he’ll give away whatever he deems necessary to garner praise. It makes him a sitting duck in foreign negotiations and a pliable player domestically. Second, in particular, the DACA deal coupled with the debt-ceiling deal unnerved and divided Republicans, who don’t know whether to rationalize Trump’s moves or castigate him. With Stephen K. Bannon in the wings ready to run alt-right candidates in primary races against GOP incumbents, a full-scale meltdown of the GOP majorities is now quite conceivable. Third, and most important, the deal offers real relief for nearly 700,000 young people, brought here as children, who have worked and/or gone to school and presented themselves to the government. Try as he might, Attorney General Jeff Sessions could not make a plausible case for throwing these people out. They aren’t criminals; they’ve been screened for criminal conduct. There is no evidence whatsoever that they are “stealing” native born Americans’ or legal immigrants’ jobs.
Schumer and Pelosi are not newcomers to politics nor are they foolish. They know how unprincipled, mercurial and, ironically for a con man, gullible Trump is. They will use it to their party’s advantage to divide and conquer the GOP and make headway on Democratic priorities. If they go into the 2018 midterms with Obamacare on the books, permanent relief for “dreamers,” no wall and no tax cuts for the rich (Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is now promising as much) they’ll have pulled off a political miracle.
For all that, we can say, well done, Mr. Schumer and Ms. Pelosi.