Emperor Obama has unleashed his evil plans to free millions of criminals upon American society, and Republicans want you to know they won’t stand for it. When the new congress starts, they are going to do…I don’t know…come to think of it, they don’t know…but SOMETHING damnit!!!
The country is just not going to stand for this kind of tyranny! This unprecedented move has only been done by two other presidents in the last 4 presidents.
Ok, you get the point. You know, republicans keep doing this to themselves. They work themselves up into such a froth that they really leave themselves no way to save face. In this case, Obama’s actions are so tame, I’m surprised the liberals didn’t provide a backlash against him for not doing more. But republicans can’t just say “oh, nevermind, that’s not so bad” after all their bluster about executive overreach (or dictator Obama as they would say), government shutdowns, and, yes, even impeachment. (These are elected representatives mind you, and not just the random quack.)
What they don’t seem to realize is that they likely have walked straight into a well placed trap. See, they think they’ve cornered Obama in an unpopularity contest. After all, the thought of Obama doing this alone has not polled well, even though people agree with the substance. And yet, Obama’s calculus is entirely different. Democrats aren’t winning with white male voters anytime soon, and their gap is growing in that demographic. They need to keep a strong hold on Latinos to win future elections. His approval rating is irrelevant. And I suppose he might actually think it was the right thing to do even.
So why didn’t Obama give republicans 6 months to act and then do this? Well first, there’s no sign it would make a difference. The only chamber that changed is the Senate, which already passed a bipartisan immigration bill. The House hasn’t changed, and that’s where its held up. And when House republicans brought immigration up earlier this year, they immediately backtracked on their own outline of a plan, because of resistance from the right wing of the party. Short of bringing it up for vote and letting dems be the deciding caucus, there’s no way the GOP can just force through these issues because they’re suddenly serious about it.
Second, waiting means the final two years of Obama’s term are gone. Lame duck in chief. Immigration would be the one and only significant issue on the hill, it wouldn’t pass anyway, and once he eventually took the same action, we would still be right back where we are now next summer. Immigration would dominate for another 6 months, and then it would be presidential primary season and that’s the ball game. He won’t want this to be the topic that everyone discusses while Hillary is trying to win the office. Heck, nobody even asked her opinion if you can believe that.
But Chris, it poisoned the well!!! Republicans can’t work with him now. Yeah right, the president poisoned the pure fountain of bipartisanship and camaraderie that was modern Washington. Suuure. (Arizona Governor-elect Doug Ducey actually had the nerve to say that we were only in this situation because Obama had been holding up reform for the last 6 years. You just can’t make this stuff up.) Read my lips. OBAMA DOES NOT CARE. Either republicans get over it and work with Obama, or they continue to obstruct and remind Americans how terrible they are at governing. Either way, Obama wins.
In the meantime, Republicans look like quacks (impeachment, govt shutdowns, talk of dictatorships, etc) and even more so if they actually try to do those things. But it also reinforces the party’s general unfriendliness to immigrants, latinos and other people of color. Talk by the GOP is all around how they can repeal this terrible action. Not one of them has commented on the merit of it, or expressed support for the people affected, at least that I’ve seen.
Let’s pause for a second to consider what Obama did. He basically said that certain classes of immigrants, which have already been recognized as unique by congressionally passed law, are eligible to…wait for it…apply for Visas. OMG!!! IT’S A COMPLETE DESTRUCTION OF OUR CONSTITUTION!!! HE’S RUINING…wait. That’s it? That’s lame. That barely qualifies as prioritizing enforcement. It’s actually far far less controversial than I expected, which is to say it’s not controversial at all. It’s absolutely bulletproof legally, even if the same thing hadn’t been done by Bush and Reagan.
But, I hear republicans crying, Obama said it would be against the law in an interview last year to do this. First, what presidents say in rhetoric can be held against them politically, but it bears no weight on the constitutionality of the order. And second, he wasn’t likely talking about such a scaled back action.
But beyond just bitching about how unreasonable republicans are, there’s actually a deeper message for the GOP here. The GOP has held up immigration far longer than just this congress. When Obama ran in 2008 it was a long overdue issue. Really it should have been addressed in the first Bush administration. But they could never get what they wanted (“100% secure border”) which might not even be possible. So they prevented any other action. In the meantime our system, which even then was universally considered broken, just got worse and worse.
One of the oldest sayings in history says “perfect is the enemy of good.” Republicans have turned down a chance to balance the budget, stabilize medicare and social security, improve Obamacare by participating in the process, make the financial crisis stimulus more effective, and pass immigration reform, all because they couldn’t get everything they asked for. I really see the current immigration debate as foreshadowing future crises on all of the above issues and more. If they continue to stall until they can have everything, they may not get anything and will create more problems in the meantime.
So, for the Clif Notes version:
- Obama strengthens latino support and fires up the base with completely legal and reasonable action
- Republicans look like quacks, obstructionists and semi-racists
Shin Tzu’s Art of War says that the battle is won before the armies take the field. Republicans should have seen this one coming.