The Executive Immigration Order That Breaks the Obama Presidency? Pt. 2

By Stanley Renshon on September 19, 2014

When a president's major policy initiative, like President Obama's healthcare initiative, never gains public support, he is in trouble. When, in addition, the public no longer supports many of the president's other major domestic or foreign policies, the trouble is far more serious. And when both of the preceding are true and the public views the president as "weak", ineffective", or "dishonest", it is appropriate to use the word "collapse" to describe that presidency.

That is the current state of the Obama presidency.

In the midst of swirling public doubts about the president's domestic and foreign policies, along with questions about his competence and integrity as a leader, Mr. Obama insists that he will issue a sweeping executive immigration order that is certain to further roil the public and damage his public standing.

Why he would do this is an interesting question, but what, if anything, can be done about it is a more important one.

The president's view is that his executive immigration order, that is likely to provide amnesty for substantial numbers of illegal migrants, is the "right thing to do". I'm sure he believes that to be true.

Believing that goal is "right" has led him to not pressure members of his party to back down from their maximalist demands for legalization and citizenship for most of the county's 11.7 million illegal migrants, a doubling of the numbers of legal immigrants now entering the country every year, and making only vague promises to strengthen border security sometime in the future.

As a result, the president's complaint that he has been forced to issue his executive order because Congress "won't act" is a shallow subterfuge that glosses over the president's own central role in ensuring that a compromise can't be reached.

The less savory reasons for Mr. Obama's forthcoming assault on the rule of law and the public's confidence in the president's adherence to it is personal aggrandizement and politics, pure and simple.

The president wants to make a grand gesture, one for the history books, to help compensate for his failed six-year search for presidential greatness, which has so far eluded him. It is highly doubtful this divisive initiative will rescue his presidency or his historical standing.

On the surface, the president's executive order must seem like clever politics. By waiting until after the midterm elections are held he avoids putting his party's candidates at more electoral risk by doing something that many ordinary Americans don't support and won't like. Then there are the political rewards of associating not only the president, but also his party, with a major effort to cement the political loyalties of "Latinos" for generations to come by granting legalization through executive fiat.

Sure, Republicans will loudly complain about his lawlessness, but almost no Democrat in either the House or Senate has raised any objections. Nor will they. They share the president's political calculations and even his legacy ambitions. After all, historically, and at the voting both, his success is theirs.

The major question for the country, ordinary Americans and incidentally independents, Republicans and those interested in real immigration reform, is this: Will the president and his party get away with it?

Next: Responding to the President's Immigration Fiat, Pt. 1


Topics: Politics