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Sunday, November 23, 2014
Obama plays dirty politics with the Constitution
Obama plays dirty politics with the Constitution
US President Barack Obama delivers remarks on his executive action on immigration at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas.
Picture: Isaac Brekken/AP
By Matt Lewis 4:42PM GMT 22 Nov 2014
Six years into his presidency, and having promised to bring about “hope and change,” Barack Obama's immigration reform shows he is still playing games, writes Matt Lewis
At some point during grade school,Americanchildren are taught about the separation of powers.
The Founders, in their wisdom, pit ambition against ambition. This adversarial relationship was by design, intended to be a check on power. Even unpopular features of our democratic process – like gridlock – can be seen as a feature, not a bug. Roles and responsibilities were simplistically defined thusly: Congress passes the laws, the judicial branch interprets those laws, and the executive branch (the president) enforces those laws. Less simplistic, but still understandable, is that in enforcing those laws, the president has some leeway – some discretion, if you will.
But any schoolboy watching President Obama’s speech on Thursday night – where he laid out his plan to act unilaterally on immigration (without Congress) -- might rightly be confused. For it seems that the president has crossed that fine line between enforcing the law (his proper role) and simply rewriting laws that do not suit him. And in so doing, he has directly contradicted at least 22 of his own past statements, including very specific quotes like: “I’m president, I’m not king. I can’t do these things just by myself’” and “I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed.”
If that weren’t enough, extenuating circumstances make this move even more audacious. Just two weeks ago, Obama’s policies were decisively rebuked at the ballot box. Given the results of that election, one wonders what position is he in to bypass the will of the people? It’s impossible to argue he has a mandate to take the law into his own hands. As Republican Senator Mike Lee said in a press statement: “This act demonstrates he respects neither election outcomes, nor the rule of law.”
Putting aside the constitutional concerns, what President Obama has done can also be thought of as both incredibly cynical and transparently political. Just think of the timing: Why make this announcement after the midterm elections? The obvious answer is that he knew it would hurt Democrats politically. Better to wait. But then, if this is an issue that can wait, why not wait until after December 11 – the funding deadline (where Congress will vote to keep the federal government open)? An obvious answer is that Obama is hoping to bait Republicans into another government shutdown, which could both serve to make them look both recalcitrant and anti-Hispanic.
There are other consequences. Before newly-elected Republicans even take over the Senate, Obama has already poisoned the well, and possibly created a self-fulfilling prophecy of intransigence. How on earth can one expect to begin a new relationship based on trust, compromise, and civility when – before one even takes office – the president has pre-emptively neutered the coequal branch of government to which you belong?
It’s all about politics, of course. And aside from the damage done to our system of government, and the setback to civility, yet another predictable result is that it now becomes much less likely we can achieve the sort of national consensus that would lead to a bipartisan vote on permanent immigration reform policies.
Conservatives who support immigration reform in principle (and there are plenty of us) now have an even tougher time persuading fellow conservatives to support such policies. And this, one supposes, is part of Obama’s devious plan. A dirty secret is that many Democrats would prefer immigration reform not to be a muddy issue. Achieving bipartisan support for immigration reform doesn’t fit their agenda. Much better, they reason, to set up a Manichean paradigm, whereby Democrats are the party of immigrants – and Republicans are mere philistine “nativists” who want to deport hard-working families.
Six years into his presidency, and having promised to bring about “hope and change” the president is still playing games. His speech on Thursday nightwas terrific rhetoric, but who can believe him at this point? Whether it’s his broken promise that “if you like your plan you can keep it” or the recently revealed speeches of ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber (who admitted passing ObamaCare necessitated deceiving “stupid” voters), many Americans are finally learning the lesson that there is a huge disconnect between Obama’s uplifting speeches and the policies he actually implements.
Matt K. Lewis is a senior contributor at The Daily Caller website in Washington, DC