The president's high-wire politico-acrobatics....
The president presented his deportation suspension plan Thursday in Las Vegas, a mecca for gamblers worldwide and hence a fitting place for a riverboat political gamble. This NRO Obama video compilation (3:03) memorializes his prior record of recognizing the very limits to his presidential authority on which he trampled last night. In all, Obama has denied 22 times having such authority during his presidency. On Fox News Special Report Charles Krauthammer (0:31) & George Will (1:55) impaled Obama's action. CK called it the act of a caudillo-- military leader, applied to Spanish & South American military dictators--bypassing the National Assembly in a "banana republic"; GW called it "institutional vandalism" & a "nullification" (of the separation of powers).
Bush 43 White House aide Peter Wehner (h/t Jennifer Rubin) captured the brazen, cynical nature of the president's act, on the eve of his announcement:
What is about to happen may be the low point in a presidency filled with them. Mr. Obama is acting in a way that he himself knows–that he himself has said–is unconstitutional and indefensible. No matter. In an act of unmatched narcissism and selfishness, the president will create–he is thirsting to create–a constitutional crisis that is utterly unnecessary and will further polarize our political culture.
WaPo ombudsman Glenn Kessler awarded an upside-down "Pinocchio" to the president for his flip-flop on executive action that circumvents Congressional authority previously acknowledged as supreme. Here are excerpts from prior presidential statements (full texts & associated videos available at link above):
Obama on 3/28/2011 (Univision):
With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed — and I know that everybody here at Bell is studying hard so you know that we’ve got three branches of government. Congress passes the law. The executive branch’s job is to enforce and implement those laws. And then the judiciary has to interpret the laws.
There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as President.
Obama on 1/13/2013 (Univision):
Well, I think it is important to remind everybody that, as I said I think previously, and I’m not a king. I am the head of the executive branch of government. I’m required to follow the law. And that’s what we’ve done. But what I’ve also said is, let’s make sure that we’re applying the law in a way that takes into account people’s humanity. That’s the reason that we moved forward on deferred action. Within the confines of the law we said, we have some discretion in terms of how we apply this law. The same is true with respect to the kinds of the length of time that people have to spend outside of the country when their spouses are already here for example.
Obama on 2/14/2013 (Google Hangout):
Well, look Jackie, this is something I’ve struggled with throughout my presidency. The problem is that you know I’m the president of the United States. I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed, and Congress right now has not changed what I consider to be a broken immigration system.
And what that means is that we have certain obligations to enforce the laws that are in place, even if we think that in many cases the results may be tragic. And what we have been able to do is to make sure that we’re focusing our enforcement resources on criminals — as opposed to somebody who’s here, just trying to work and look after their families.
Obama on 9/17/2013 (Telemundo):
Here’s the problem that I have, Jose, and I have said this consistently. My job in the executive branch is to carry out the laws that are passed. Congress has said, here’s the law when it comes to those who are undocumented, and they allocate a whole bunch of money for enforcement. What I have been able to do is make a legal argument that I think is absolutely right, which is that given the resources we have, we can’t do everything that Congress has asked us to do, what we can do is then carve out the DREAM Act folks….
But if we start broadening that, then essentially, I would be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally. So that’s not an option. I do get a little worried that advocates of immigration reform start losing heart and immediately thinking, well, somehow there’s an out here—that if Congress doesn’t act, we will just have the president sign something and that will take care of it, and we won’t have to worry about it. What I have said is that there is a path to get this done and that is through Congress.”
Deroy Murdock points out that terrorists can cross the border:
Last year alone, 5,063 citizens of these 14 countries were arrested as they tried to penetrate America’s southern flank. Between 2004 and 2013, 68,287 such illegal aliens were stopped on their way into the U.S.A.
The vast majority of these people very likely left their oppressive, corrupt, strife-torn countries in search of peace, stability, and prosperity. Although they tried to break into this country without permission, most probably are harmless.
But even assuming that 99 percent of these people have innocent intentions, that means that 51 of them last year and 683 over the last 10 years sought to maim or kill Americans.
DM adds that yes, these numbers show who was caught. But, he adds, does anyone believe that 100 percent of those from terror-infested countries who tried to cross were caught?
Victor Davis Hanson sees rejection of open borders & amnesty for illegals in the recent off-year vote. Legal eagle Andy McCarthy explains that Obama can legally pardon illegals, without raising the constitutional issues if he acts via executive fiat. This does not make them citizens, he writes, as only Congress can legislate citizenship status. Against O's abuse of presidential power the only remedy, he notes, is impeachment & removal from office--which never will happen in this Congress or the new one come January.
Kim Strassel's WSJ column suggests that a GOP president in Jan. 2017, even facing a Senate returned to Democratic control under Boss Harry Reid, could use Obama-style executive-order license to accomplish many GOP goals whilst bypassing the Congress and outrunning the judicial branch.
Bottom Line. Obama holds the high cards. And he will deal them--from the bottom of the legal and constitutional deck. But even he cannot foresee the full consequences of his political act for the politics of 2015 & beyond. More important, he cannot foresee its ultimate impact upon the country's demographic, cultural & economic future. And for what matters most of all to America's most narcissistic president ever, he cannot foresee the ultimate impact upon his own presidential legacy.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, Homeland Security, National Security, Foreign Policy, Economy, Conservative Politics