August 12

President Obama released a statement today on the killing of Michael Brown:

The death of Michael Brown is heartbreaking, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family and his community at this very difficult time. As Attorney General Holder has indicated, the Department of Justice is investigating the situation along with local officials, and they will continue to direct resources to the case as needed. I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but as details unfold, I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country, to remember this young man through reflection and understanding. We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds. Along with our prayers, that’s what Michael and his family, and our broader American community, deserve.

How much you want to bet that conservatives read this utterly uncontroversial statement and take it as one more salvo in the “war on whites” that Obama is allegedly waging? It’s one of the ironies of this presidency that conservatives sincerely believe that Obama is constantly pushing a radical racial agenda, when in truth Obama has only explicitly talked about race a few times in his years in office, and then only with obvious reluctance.

• Speaking of which, read Jonathan Capehart on the subject of that “war on whites.”

• Ed Kilgore checks in on the developing Hillary-versus-Barack storyline, and offers a prediction:

Yesterday, you may recall, I took a closer look at HRC’s Atlantic interview, and concluded that all the talk about Clinton “harshly criticizing” Obama’s foreign policy was more than a bit overwrought. But it very quickly became CW, and so now we are supposed to be surprised that Obama’s former Secretary of State is socializing with her former boss. I betcha Clinton will be pressured into issuing some sort of “clarification” of her attitude towards Obama’s foreign policy — the foreign policy, I must apparently remind everyone, she was supervising until eighteen months ago — and then she’ll be accused of executing a flip-flop.

I’d love to say I thought Ed was wrong, but it sounds awfully plausible to me.

• And right on cue, we get this report from Politico that Clinton called Obama to clarify that they’re still totally buds and everything is cool. This isn’t the last time we’re going to go through this cycle.

• Immigration attorney David Leopold notes that at various times, presidents from both parties have used their authority to delay deportations of large groups of immigrants. But this president is Barack Obama, so that makes it totally different.

• Elise Foley and Sam Stein have some details on that history, courtesy of the Democratic group American Bridge. Presidents who undertook similar actions before to allow large numbers of immigrants to stay included Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush. You’ll be hearing Democrats talk about that a lot in coming days — look for Republican spinners to be asked “Was it wrong when Ronald Reagan did it?” over and over again.

• Jonathan Bernstein has some advice for Obama as he goes about this decision:

For one thing, presidents should install excellent, honest-broker lawyers in important decision-making posts — and then listen to them. Honest lawyers, not yes men. Presidents need to be alerted when they are bumping up against the law, and, yes, in danger of violating norms. Lawyers who see their jobs as enabling whatever the president wants are worse than useless; they rob the president of an important source of information.

For another, presidents need to learn to listen to pre-emptive protests against their actions. That’s extremely difficult to do. Good presidenting certainly doesn’t require backing off whenever anyone objects to a policy, whether it’s on substantive or procedural grounds. But presidents shouldn’t ignore strong procedural objections. Sometimes, they draw attention to something that could lead a president into trouble. What then? Perhaps there’s a better path to a similar substantive result. If not, then a wise president will add procedural difficulties and risks to the cost side of the ledger, and be prepared to retreat if the benefits are no longer worth it.

In addition to the Republicans crying “Tyranny!” at whatever Obama decides, there will also be liberals saying he has the legal right to do what he’s doing, but he still shouldn’t. But until we know exactly what he proposes, we won’t know if they have a point.

• Obama’s getting support from one unexpected place: former attorney general under George W. Bush Alberto Gonzales.

• Since GOP “outreach” to Hispanics has been such a failure, the Koch brothers are stepping in with a little of their own:

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Looking to make inroads with the rising number of Hispanic voters, conservative activists are offering English classes, health checkups and courses to help Spanish-speakers earn high school diplomas. Picking up part of the tab: Charles and David Koch. . . .

Enter the Libre Initiative, an organization that has collected millions from the Kochs’ political network. Libre, which is pronounced LEE’-bray and means “free,” pushes a message of limited government and economic freedom between lessons on how to build family-run businesses and prayer breakfasts with Hispanic pastors.

You know what? More power to them. If they can convince some Hispanics to vote Republican, that’s okay. And maybe they’ll actually help a few people along the way.

• Alexis Levinson watches Joni Ernst and Bruce Braley at the Iowa state fair and concludes that Braley is running on policy, while Ernst is running on personalty. The real story, however, may be that Deep Fried Butter On a Stick has been banished from the state fair, so obviously the right move would have been to boycott the whole thing as an act of protest. Sure, they might try to ease our pain with the Maple Bacon Brownie On a Stick, but it won’t be the same.

• PPP reports that it looks as if Mitch McConnell is consolidating the Republican base in Kentucky, with his party’s members lining up behind him after a contentious primary. But he still only leads Alison Lundergan Grimes by 4 points, so the race remains tight.

• As Joe Sonka reports, neither McConnell nor Grimes is talking about the Affordable Care Act on the stump, probably because it has helped a lot of Kentuckians (McConnell’s reason) and because it has Obama all over it (Grimes’s reason).

• Jonathan Chait has an interesting theory on how by holding back the economy, congressional Republicans may have helped Hillary Clinton get elected president.

• Republicans are going out of their way to demonstrate their respect for voters’ intelligence:

The National Republican Congressional Committee, which came under fire earlier this year for a deceptive series of fake Democratic candidate websites that it later changed after public outcry, has launched a new set of deceptive websites, this time designed to look like local news sources.

The NRCC has created about two dozen of these new faux news sites targeting Democrats, both challengers and incumbents, and is promoting them across the country with localized Google search ads.

The NRCC’s single-page sites are designed to appear to be a local news portal, with logos like “North County Update” or “Central Valley Update.” The articles begin in the impartial voice of a political fact-checking site, hoping to lure in readers. “We’ll take a look at her record and let you decide,”starts one. Then they gradually morph into more biting language. At the very bottom, in a box, is the disclaimer that the NRCC paid for the site.

“Whoa,” said one reader. “I was thinking of voting for my Democratic congressman, but when I found out from this totally legit news site that he was endorsed by Kim Jong-un and Ayman al-Zawahiri, I started to have second thoughts.”

• And finally, at the American Prospect, I suggested that it’s time we ditched “raising awareness.”