Friday, November 21, 2014

Put Up or Shut Up!

Well he finally did it. Five months after he probably should've done it, President Obama signed an executive order to protect as many as four million illegal immigrants from deportation. And, not surprisingly, the Republicans are throwing a hissy fit. The wingnuts, in particular, are practically in a stupor.

With one stroke of a pen, Obama not only made his bones with a vital demographic group his party will desperately need in 2016, he ostensibly boxed in the GOP, who will now spend the next several weeks, if not months, trying all kinds of stupid maneuvers to undo what many of them already know cannot be undone. Two birds with one signature. All in all, a pretty successful day for a president who was supposed to be settling in for what everyone expected was going to be a very lame duck final two years. So much for lame duck.

To be clear, this executive order is not a cure for all that ails our broken immigration system. Indeed, it is barely a band aid. Politically, though, the move is brilliant in that it will force whoever the Republican nominee is in 2016 to either grudgingly admit Obama was right - not likely - or run on rescinding the order - much more likely. For a party struggling to prove it isn't a whites-only party, that's a nightmarish scenario.

But the move is not without some risks. Some independent voters may not like the fact that Obama took executive action and they could take out their frustration on whoever the Democratic nominee is in two years. But, on the whole, it's a risk Obama had to take.

Anyone who paid close attention to the exit polls in the last presidential election knows full well that, without the support of the Latino community, Obama would likely have lost to Mitt Romney. Another way of putting it would be that if Romney had gotten the same percentage of the Hispanic vote that George Bush got in '04, he would've gotten an extra three million votes and Obama three million less. If you're counting, that's a six million vote swing. Bye, bye Florida (29 electoral votes), Virginia (13), Ohio (18) and Colorado (9). That's 69 less electoral votes Obama would've gotten, giving him a total of 263, seven shy of winning reelection. Know this much: they can add in the White House.

They can also add in the Clinton household. Both Bill and Hillary wasted no time throwing their full support behind Obama's executive action. She may not like Obama, but Hillary knows full well that no Democrat can win the White House without the Hispanic vote. Indeed, the party's fortunes are tied to getting the lion's share of the minority vote. Without it, the electoral map looks a lot like the last two midterms.

Of course, all the Republicans would have to do is "pass a bill," as the President challenged them to do, and his executive order would basically be rescinded.  I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for that to happen. I've said it once and I'll say it again: Republican leadership will never permit a comprehensive immigration bill to see the light of day. Not because they don't think it's a good idea, but because they know the minute they do, they'll be tarred and feathered by their base.

Obama knows this all too well. Give him credit for finally having the spine to do the right thing. Look for him to be more assertive in other areas, like the Keystone Pipeline. He looks like he's got his mojo back and that's bad news for a Republican Party that was hoping to set the tempo for the next two years.


Brian Weston said...

I like what he did here A LOT. Though was it just me or did he look a bit nervous speaking in the beginning?

Prof. Walter Jameson said...


Well, yeah, it's going to be an extremely bad two years for the president, and here are a few of the reasons why:

A case called King v. Burwell will be heard before the Supreme Court. The outcome of this case will probably determine the future of the ACA. The conservative argument is strong on the merits and Chief Justice Roberts will, in all likelihood, not be inclined to 'kick the ball onto the fairway' for the president this time.

In regard to the executive action that the president took on Friday, the nightmare has just begun - on several fronts. Attorneys general from several states are readying a constitutional challenge. The US Congress is preparing its own constitutional challenge on the principle of separation of powers - a much stronger case than what the states have. The Congress will hold up all non-essential executive nominees and appointments. The Congress will actively seek to vacate the executive action by placing defunding riders on bills that the president wants. The Congress will not be goaded into shutting the government down nor will it introduce articles of impeachment (on this action) against the president. The president, by taking this executive action, has lost the public relations battle - especially with independent voters.

Let me expand a little bit on that last point. The president's executive action was blatantly and transparently political. Among many, many other things, he had the ability to get an immigration reform bill through Congress in his first two years in office. He chose not to do so. Secondly, the president - formerly a constitutional law professor at U of Chicago - said on numerous occasions that he did not have the authority to do EXACTLY what he did on Friday. Now, mind you, this is on top of the many representations he made about the ACA. So, he comes across as being a little fast and loose with the truth. Finally, having come around to the idea that he does have the authority to take this particular executive action, he cynically waits until after the midterm election to order it. So there you have it. This is what's out there for everyone to see.

As I said in another response, the president was going to have to be forceful with the republicans on some issues. Unfortunately, he picked and chose this one. In short order, it will be apparent that it was a losing issue not only for him (and his presidency), but also for Democrats. He has also ensured that his remaining two years in office, barring any significant national or international occurrences, have been consigned to irrelevancy. And that's a real shame because, having voted for this man twice, I hoped for, and expected, a lot more.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond.