Somebody has got to take the fall, so why not the most vulnerable and voiceless among us?
President Obama declared war on illegal alien children during an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd of Meet the Press., blaming them and the resulting border crisis for scuttling his amnesty plans.
The president also claimed that politics was not the reason for his decision to delay his power grab. And he said that unicorns were real and can fly.
Well, maybe not the last. But if he expects us to believe the other two explanations, why not?
“The truth of the matter is that the politics did shift midsummer because of that problem,” Obama said in the interview, which will air on Sunday’s Meet the Press on NBC. “I want to spend some time, even as we’re getting all our ducks in a row for the executive action, I also want to make sure that the public understands why we’re doing this, why it’s the right thing for the American people, why it’s the right thing for the American economy.”
In the sit-down with Todd, Obama rejected criticism that the postponement is merely a political tactic intended to help embattled Democrats in the months before contentious midterm elections, saying that the delay will help make new immigration policies “sustainable” when they are announced later this year.
“What I’m saying is that I’m going to act because it’s the right thing for the country,” he said. “But it’s going to be more sustainable and more effective if the public understands what the facts are on immigration, what we’ve done on unaccompanied children, and why it’s necessary.”
It should go without saying that “the truth of the matter” is Obamaspeak for “pay close attention because I’m about ready to lie.” The midsummer “shift” in politics was a sudden drop in the poll numbers of Democratic senators in states where Republican challengers were making hay criticizing Democrats for their border policies.
And, as Jennifer Rubin points out, the notion that the president delayed his policies because he didn’t want to hurt the chances of comprehensive reform passing Congress is a crock:
If the president wants to make a policy grab, he can do so whenever he pleases. This craven move, however, allows him to (try to) duck responsibility and avoid the wrath of voters. To suggest that he is trying to avoid wrecking the prospects of legislative action is absurd; he’s given up on legislation passed as the Constitution prescribes. The speaker of the House rightfully blasted the president: “There is never a ‘right’ time for the president to declare amnesty by executive action, but the decision to simply delay this deeply-controversial and possibly unconstitutional unilateral action until after the election – instead of abandoning the idea altogether – smacks of raw politics. The American people deserve honesty, transparency, and accountability – and any unilateral action will only further strain the bonds of trust between the White House and the people they are supposed to serve.“
Obama has handed Republicans a powerful issue and put Democrats in the uncomfortable position of having to defend the president’s lawlessness. If there is one thing that united all Republicans on the immigration issue, it is the unacceptability of the president taking the law into his own hands. Republicans can now talk about this, not to mention the fact the House did pass a bill on the border security crisis (the Senate went home). Democrats have gone from offense to defense, thanks to the president, on the one issue that might have saved some seats. Now it is Republicans who will seize the momentum.
While Rubin is correct, the unfortunate fact is that Republican candidates have nowhere to go on the amnesty issue. The president hasn’t confirmed anything. The administration has only said that amnesty is an “option.” Republicans may broadly allude to the prospect of amnesty but are prevented from specific criticism by the president’s delaying tactic.
Indeed, it’s the last quiver in the president’s bow to save the Senate for Democrats. By taking amnesty off the table as a campaign issue — or, at least, reducing its impact — the president gives Senators like Pryor in Arkansas and Landrieu in Louisiana a fighting chance. It also eases the way for incumbents like Udall in Colorado and Dem candidates in several open-seat races who are locked in tighter-than-expected contests.
On the downside, it is likely to depress Hispanic turnout. But minority turnout in off-year elections is notoriously low anyway, so the calculus will probably make the president’s gambit pay off on election day: It will save more votes for Democrats than cost them.