Week In Politics: Turmoil On The Hill And Violence In Gaza

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Regular political commentators, E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and David Brooks of The New York Times, discuss the beleaguered border bill in the House and the shattered cease-fire in Gaza.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

For more we turn now to E. J. Dionne of the Washington Post and Brookings Institution and David Brooks of the New York Times. Our Friday regulars. Hey there, gentlemen.

E.J. DIONNE: How are you?

DAVID BROOKS: Good to be with you.

CORNISH: So we're going to focus on some international news in a bit but first I want to get your read on what's been going down in the House the last 48 hours. It's been described as disarray in getting this border bill going aimed at the influx of the migrant children entering the country illegally. What I want to note though is a comment that came in a statement from House Speaker John Boehner's office actually I believe yesterday where he said, it said, there are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now without the need for congressional action to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries. Now president Obama was quick today to point out that this is the exact issue Republicans want to sue him for. So David, help us understand the discrepancy.

BROOKS: Well, the Republicans have, one, a media problem which is tech crews and a group of people in the house care more about taking positions than passing legislations so they're pretty much unwilling to compromise. And it's just about the craft of legislating involves compromise and there's a large group of people who just don't want to do it. The larger issue is, and this is a microcosm of what's wrong with Washington, both parties have some what of a point. The Republicans are right that the old law needs to be changed so it's not a magnet. They're right, they need to secure the border. The Democrats are right that we do have a refugee crisis, there's some humanitarian need not to just deport everybody. So it should be possible to give everybody a little of what they want. But this is modern Washington and that can't happen. And consistency on John Boehner's part does not seem to be a strong suit either in this case.

CORNISH: E.J.?

DIONNE: I think this week could be something of a turning point because the bringing the lawsuit against the president is very unpopular among everybody except Republicans - independents are against it, moderates are against it and of course Democrats are against it. And to turn around as you suggested and say, you are abusing your executive authority Mr. President but by the way, why don't you use your executive authority to solve this problem? I don't think that goes down well with people. In terms of solving the problem, the notion that the Congress can give this small amount of money that the house wants to give after having said this is a massive crisis - I think that speaks to a real problem there. And in terms of changing the 2008 law, - if we were operating the way Washington is supposed to operate we wouldn't have a crisis and then instantly get rid of a law that Congress bragged about. We'd have hearings, we'd talk about it, in the meantime take steps to solve this immediate problem.

CORNISH: I want to play a piece of tape from Congressman Gutierrez, Democrat, where he basically's accusing Republicans of forgetting all of the kind of postelection rhetoric of connecting better with the Latino community and stepping up on this issue.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

CONGRESSMAN LUIS GUTIERREZ: Let me make clear on behalf of all of us here that we will soon cure them of that amnesia, come this election and every election moving forward. Because the way you treat one of us today is the way you have treated all of us. And we will remember that.

CORNISH: Now here's the thing, despite all these warnings Republicans are doing pretty well in this primary season right now. Are the hard-liners right to hold the line on this legislation?

BROOKS: Mr. Gutierrez is probably wrong with this election and maybe the next one but down the road he's probably right. So, if you look at the polling all the dysfunction of the Republican party has had no affect on the country. Historically, Democrats generally do better on which party you're leaning toward but if they're only doing a little better that's a problem for the Democrats because Republicans show up a lot more. And right now, which party you're leaning towards - the numbers look very much like 1994, 2002, 2010 which were great Republican years. So so far the polling's suggest there's going to be a very good Republican year. As for long-term, he's certainly right, if you don't win the Hispanic vote the Republicans are really in a long-term death spiral.

DIONNE: I don't read the election as 2010. I don't think this is 2010. The Republicans have certain advantages in terms of where the Senate races are and also in terms of gerrymandering. But I think the Republicans really are making a historic error. And, well, we can just agree on the long-term when they are talking about a policy of deport, deport, deport where they're even saying, we don't want the dreamers to have a chance to stay here. The most popular immigration reforms that are out there are the ones that say kids who came here when they were very young because their parents brought them, we shouldn't be throwing them out of the country. And so I think the Republicans have moved to what will be a politically dysfunctional position for them.

CORNISH: I don't want let you go without talking briefly about the short-lived cease-fire in the Gaza Strip. You know, President Obama spoke about this putting some emphasis on the role of Hamas. David, let's get to this uncomfortable issue about kind of what's in it for Hamas, right? In order - in terms of these kinds of cease-fires really having a lasting impact.

BROOKS: Well, I mean, Hamas did break the cease-fire I assume because they want the violence to continue because they think they're benefiting the more their own people get killed. But we have almost a unanimity, or at least a large majority of the Arab world and Israel, all on one side - the Egyptians, the Saudi's, the Jordianians, The Syrians, the Israelis - all think it's time to weaken Hamas. And the Egyptians put together a truce proposal but basically would do that. For some unfathomable reason, John Kerry undermined that this week and went for a proposal that was more friendly to Hamas. It seems to me this is the moment to weaken Hamas which is what most of the moderate Arab world wants do. It seems to me this is the moment to nurture some moderate regimes in that world. And that seems to be, should be, our primary goal - not just to allow Hamas to get off the hook, which is what Kerry really attempted this week.

DIONNE: Well, I think when you looked at the cease-fire, very short-lived cease-fire, that was actually negotiated it was a cease-fire that potentially could've brought about the change in Gaza that would be good for Gaza and that would be welcomed by a lot of people in the Middle East which is to slowly shift power in Gaza toward the Palestinian Authority. I think in the long run, that is a solution here. I thought there was a shot that this would hold because I think the risk Hamas is running is that they have probably made some political gains by being the group that stood up here, even though breaking the cease-fire brings horrible results, but I think that over time the people in Gaza going to say, why can't we stop this? And so I'm not sure breaking the cease-fire is certainly on humanitarian grounds a terrible thing - I think it may not be a good political move for Hamas in the long-run.

CORNISH: David?

BROOKS: The novelist Damas Sas (ph) is about as left as you can get on the Israeli context and he started an interview today with a German interviewer and was saying, what would you do if someone puts a boy in their lap and starts shooting at your nursery school? When Damas Sas sounds like Le Could (ph) then there's unanimity on the Israeli side and I think that's what happened over the last couple of days.

DIONNE: There's no doubt that Israel is more united on this war than they have been on anything for a long time.

CORNISH: And I'm sure we'll be talking more about it in the coming days. I want to thank you both for coming in. E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post and Brookings Institution. Thank you.

DIONNE: Thank you.

CORNISH: David Brooks of the New York Times, have a good weekend.

BROOKS: You too.

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