The White House waited until a dead spot in the news cycle on Saturday to leak that President Obama won’t be handing out amnesty to five million illegal aliens before the election after all. That’s how a craven political operation tries to control the spin surrounding an act of cowardice. Obama’s style of “leadership” is mostly about keeping his media plates spinning, managing crises and scandals until the news cycle moves on and they die of old age. That’s the essence of his non-strategy for dealing with ISIS – he just needs to keep them from pulling off any massive terror attacks, genocidal rampages, or major military advances until the media loses interest in them.
It’s very interesting that Obama’s amnesty orders – formerly portrayed by conventional media wisdom as a brilliant maneuver that would checkmate Republicans politically while changing the American electorate forever – have now become another plate he needs to spin, a political crisis he had to back away from. The idea was that if Obama issued the orders, Republicans would be made to look like racist xenophobes by speaking or acting against them, but if they didn’t raise loud objections, their own base would desert them. Instead, something very close to the opposite has become true. Obama is backing away from his big amnesty giveaway because endangered Democrats are telling him the 2014 elections will become a party bloodbath if he pulls the trigger. Not only will Republicans unite and become energized by the abuse of executive power to degrade American citizenship, but a sizable portion of the Democrat base isn’t happy about the amnesty idea, due to concerns ranging from national security, to the stress placed upon government services, to the tight job market.
Politico reported the leaked decision with a side order of pathetic White House spin:
President Barack Obama will delay plans to issue an executive order on immigration until the end of the year, heeding the warnings of Democratic senators who feared a voter backlash ahead of the November elections.
The decision is a major reversal from June, when the president stood in the Rose Garden and pledged to make fixes to the immigration system by the end of the summer. The delay reflected growing Democratic concerns that a sweeping executive order would further endanger the Senate majority.
???The president wants to do this in a way that is sustainable for the long-term, that is most effective and good for the country,??? a White House official said in a statement Saturday. ???The reality the president has had to weigh is that we???re in the midst of the political season, and because of the Republicans??? extreme politicization of this issue, the president believes it would be harmful to the policy itself and to the long-term prospects for comprehensive immigration reform to announce administrative action before the elections.???
What a knee-slapper! (Although the GOP could learn a lot from the dogged determination of Democrats to score a few points even when they’re in retreat.) Republicans aren’t the ones who “extremely politicized” this issue. On the contrary, a distressingly large percentage of Republicans would be happy to go along with some “pathway to citizenship” deal for millions of illegals, in the context of a bill that also includes the kind of border-security measures Democrats view as a poison pill. In the topsy-turvy world of Beltway politics, insisting that the government of the United States represent the interests of U.S. citizens is “extremism” and “partisanship.” In a speech on Labor Day, Obama added “immigration rights” to a litany of rights that supposedly define the essence of “hope”… as if citizens of foreign nations have some sort of binding “rights” that the American government can strip the hide off American citizens to fulfill. That’s extremism, ladies and gentlemen, not to mention sheer idiocy.
The American people do not want any more amnesty giveaways, especially after watching a tidal wave pour across the border in response to Obama’s previous, much smaller abuse of executive power to distribute amnesty. They don’t want to dump millions of newly-legalized workers into a moribund job market that still can’t produce enough jobs for legal American citizens, especially in low-skill and entry-level classifications. They don’t want to reward people for breaking the law, especially since “the people who work hard and play by the rules” are pinned beneath a massive volume of laws they don’t get to ignore, when the regulatory regime becomes an impediment to their ambitions.
And the people are deeply concerned with border security, which is the one and only “immigration” topic our government should be focused on right now. We the People should not have to pay Democrats and open-borders Republicans a pile of political bribes to persuade them to do their duty and secure the border. We shouldn’t have to offset the political losses our Ruling Class will suffer by tightening up on both border defense and the enforcement of duly enacted immigration law. With terrorism a top issue again, and Obama’s manufactured human wave from Central America a reality we’re still dealing with, the American people are more concerned than usual about the porous border. It’s not just provocateurs dressed as Osama bin Laden marching into Texas from Mexico to highlight our vulnerability any more; ABC News reporter Jim Avila just got himself and three other people across the U.S. border from Guatemala for a mere five dollars.
Wonder of wonders, it looks like the American people actually managed to communicate their desires for “immigration reform” to a starry-eyed Ruling Class that’s been daydreaming about what it could do with a fresh influx of cheap labor and reliable Democrat votes. Of course, the people must not be expressly asked how they feel about massive amnesty giveaways, or allowed to cast votes against it. The executive orders will be issued by a lame-duck President after voters go to the polls in November – heck, maybe he’ll do it the day after Election Day – allowing for the maximum possible distance from the next election.
That will also give the Ruling Class two years to work on popular resistance, tamping down border security concerns (assuming we haven’t suffered any major attacks) and using various inducements to bring currently jittery portions of the electorate back in line. The effort to blur the lines between legal and illegal immigration will continue apace. For example, here’s the beginning of the Washington Times article on Obama’s amnesty delay:
Nearly 60,000 immigrants will be deported before November elections if the government holds its pace, and many of them might have earned tentative legal status had President Obama taken unilateral action to halt deportations.
Mr. Obama???s decision to put off any action until after midterm elections, which the White House leaked Saturday hours before he announced it himself in an interview with NBC, was mocked by Republicans and enraged immigrant rights groups, who said they felt betrayed after throwing their support to the president in the 2012 election.
In the near term, it could help several vulnerable Senate Democrats who feared that unilateral action by Mr. Obama doom their campaigns.
But outside such narrow partisan considerations, Mr. Obama???s decision managed to anger nearly everyone: Republicans who called it a cynical ploy, liberal Democrats who said they wished he had pressed forward, and immigrant rights activists who called it a cowardly move.
The actual number of “immigrants” deported before the November elections will, of course, be zero. 60,000 illegal aliens might face deportation, but no immigrants are in danger of being stripped of their lawfully earned citizenship. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is facing a stiff legislative battle just to remove citizenship from people who active renounce their allegiance to the United States, swear fealty to the caliph of the Islamic State, and journey to Syria and Iraq to fight as ISIS troops.
The rest of the Washington Times’ assessment of the political fallout from the amnesty delay is spot on. Every group in Washington is either angry at Obama for breaking his promise, or liable to spend the rest of the 2014 campaign reminding voters that the President still ostensibly plans to deal out those amnesties once his Party’s electoral fortunes are secure. But individual voters might not respond to those warnings, the way they might have responded with fury to a massive amnesty order right before the election. The headlines have been controlled, and as mentioned, that’s always Obama’s number one strategic objective.
There’s also the question of how an amnesty sucker punch would derail efforts at a more comprehensive bipartisan bill. Republicans who are generally eager for such a bill would feel obliged to stiffen their resistance after Obama slaps them in the face with the gauntlet of a gigantic amnesty order. If nothing else, they’d push hard for something heavily focused on border security – which, as mentioned, is toxic to Democrats because (1) it would take money away from government programs they find more politically bountiful, (2) it would anger certain left-wing advocacy groups, and (3) effective border security would stem the flow of illegal aliens, which is something Democrats do not want. They like a nice, porous border with a steady stream of violators. Security measures effective at stopping gangsters and terrorists will also choke off the flow of politically useful illegals.
As for what happens after the election, naturally the White House will seek to reassure its preferred constituencies that amnesty is still coming, and they just have to wait a few months until the American people are no longer able to vote against it. Early responses this weekend suggest dejected amnesty advocates are fed up with Obama’s shifting promises, which is not good news for a Party working to energize voters in the chilly shadow of an unpopular President. My guess is that they’ll get over it, and deliver a 2014 landscape that isn’t nearly as forbidding as what Democrats would have faced after an amnesty backlash. But the fact that Obama and endangered Democrats decided to punt on this issue, when virtually the entire Beltway power structure is lined up to either support or accept “comprehensive immigration reform,” testifies to how strongly a broad bipartisan swath of the public is opposed. It’s not hard to imagine the 2014 election shaping up in such a way that Obama retreats on amnesty again, with a few parting shots about how “extremist” Republicans have “captured” the Senate and made it impossible for him to do “the right thing.” Looks like we’ll find out sometime between November and December.
Update: Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is playing this right, pointing out that Democrats who refuse to demand a Senate vote that would block Obama’s amnesty orders are quietly complicit in his desire to sneak this past the American electorate, and abuse his authority once the Democrat Party doesn’t have to worry about voters any more:
There must be no confusion on this point: not one Senate Democrat has supported the House bill to stop this executive action and demanded that Leader Reid bring it to a vote. Every Senate Democrat is therefore the President???s direct partner in this lawless scheme. The remedy now is for the American voter to send a message that will thunder through the halls of Congress. Though President Obama and his Senate Democrats refuse to believe so, the American citizen is still in charge of this government and this country.
[…] President Obama???s announcement that this would come only after the midterm elections is of course an attempt to protect the Senate Democrat incumbents who have enabled President Obama’s lawless immigration decrees every step of the way. This White House, and this Senate Democrat Conference, view everyday Americans ??? who want their laws enforced and their borders controlled ??? with contempt. They believe our nation???s immigration policy should be decided by a handful of the world???s most elite CEOs and most powerful open borders lobbyists, operating in secrecy and outside our open governmental process.
As I said, it’s predictable that (some) Republicans would take this approach, and use the 2014 campaign season to remind voters that only by voting against the Democrats can they ensure Obama won’t drop his amnesty orders right after the election. The White House political team knew this was coming. Which tells you a lot about how grim they thought the 2014 landscape would look if Obama went ahead with his executive orders as promised.
Update: The Wall Street Journal notes that Barack Obama spends a great deal of time complaining about the “cynicism” of politics… but what could be more blatantly cynical than announcing “he still plans to unilaterally rewrite immigration law – but not until after the election, so he can spare Democrats in Congress from the wrath of voters for doing so?”
The WSJ also notes that in the dreary “Meet the Press” interview Obama gave on Sunday night, he explicitly stated he’s backing away from amnesty due to the public backlash over the wave of Central American children that swept across the border after his last amnesty giveaway. Three observations about that talking point:
1. Obama still won’t admit the Central American wave was caused by his amnesty orders, but that’s indisputably true. It’s one of the most clear-cut cases of cause and effect in the history of government. Worrying about an even worse response to an even larger amnesty giveaway is not silly or irrational. The American people are absolutely one hundred percent correct to have those concerns; Obama is the one who comes off like a delusional lightweight who needs an adult to give him a few harsh lessons in how the world works, such as “when you give something incredibly valuable away for free, a lot of people will come looking to collect.”
2. That human wave was not comprised entirely of “children.” Far from it. Obama still won’t be honest with the American people about the large number of grown adults who crossed the border, along with the nominal “children” who were older teenagers, some of them gang members.
3. Remember that the Administration worked hard to keep the Central American migration secret. We weren’t supposed to know it was happening. We found out about the detention centers full of sick kids because photos were leaked. When people learned about the network of buses and planes the Administration was using to disperse the new arrivals across the country, resistance took the form of everything from grassroots protests to state governments – including Democrat governors – objecting to the relocation program. Obama is explicitly complaining that we found out what he was doing and objected to it. That’s a Hall of Fame-level dose of cynicism from a supposedly idealistic President.