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.
Todd Gaziano of the libertarian-leaning Pacific Legal Foundation told Right Turn, “I’m torn as to whether it is a greater or lesser affront to rule of law principles that the President indicates that he will take unilateral executive action on immigration but only announce what action after the fall election.” Gaziano continued, “If he had respect for the democratic process and he has no intention of changing his executive actions, then he should obviously announce what they are and let congressional candidates disclose whether they support such policies and think they are lawful. But if he is as truly cowed by the outcry he expects by announcing such policies early, perhaps the political process will work to produce similar statements and results, and the President may actually reconsider any actions that are illegal.”
There is likely one sentiment that nearly all political watchers and officials can agree upon. “It is a bizarre White House announcement, whatever the outcome,” as Gaziano put it.
We can expect every Republican Senate candidate to go after their opponents for sitting idly by while the president steamrolls over Congress and the Constitution. Scott Brown in New Hampshire was the first one out of the chute: “President Obama’s decision to delay executive action to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants until after the election is of little comfort to people, like myself, who believe in the rule of law. Make no mistake: President Obama plans to grant amnesty; it’s just that he will cynically wait until after the election so as not to harm Senate Democrats like Jeanne Shaheen. On illegal immigration and so many other issues, Jeanne Shaheen stands with the President, as she has with his previous executive orders on amnesty. Senator Shaheen votes with President Obama 99% of the time. The people of New Hampshire have a choice: they can re-elect Senator Shaheen and send President Obama a blank check, or they can have a real check and balance by supporting me.” That, I suspect, will have a lot of appeal, and not just with Republicans.
Many questions remain. How big will the blowback be? How will MSM pundits and opinion writers react? Will Democratic lawmakers stick with him? How furious will Hispanic groups be with Obama’s decision to kick the can down the road? The most important reaction (or refusal to reaction) may come from Hillary Clinton. Is she going to defend this outrage or pledge to undo it?
Coming on the heels of a string of foreign policy disasters, this latest gambit will strike many Americans as desperate, if not frantic. Maybe Obama should stick to his constitutional duties: commander in chief (and come up with a strategy for combating the Islamic State) and faithfully executing the laws. He is not doing either and is fast becoming a shameful spectacle.