Pundits and politicians always talk about leadership, which, last I checked, isn’t mentioned in the Constitution. It’s the word we use instead of statesmanship and/or citizenship, both of which imply standards to which the political actors should be held. Leadership is more Nietzschean, focusing on things like will, resoluteness, and courage, and implying that anything other than movement is the equivalent of death.
All of this is just an elaborate way of introducing the highly conventional analysis in this article about the apparent failure of comprehensive immigration reform: if the situation demands action, and we don’t do something, anything, why, that must be a failure of leadership. In our constitutional regime, something this big ought to be hard. It’s not about leadership simply, but also about building a consensus for action. And consensus-building requires the kind of trust (that, for example, people will do what they say about securing the border) that hasn’t yet been credibly established. I’d hate to have a "leadership success" now that just creates more problems down the road, especially if the problems are as easily foreseen as the ones inherent in this measure are. Someone who "leads" here fails the test of statesmanship, because all that would have been accomplished is the comforting appearance of doing something, without taking the even harder measures necessary to make sure that that "something" would actually resemble what had been promised.