I just wanted to point something out you might not have noticed.
Here’s an excerpt from my column this week at the American Spectator…
The great fear among conservatives, stoked by the actual statements of the Obama White House and one of its chief sycophants, Congress Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, is that the president will step far beyond the constitutional limits of his power and grant amnesty through executive fiat to as many as six million illegal aliens.
This would be political suicide for Obama. It would be an act of brazen stupidity and it would likely not only destroy any chance his party has to retain control of the Senate but could potentially fracture his own coalition for future elections. Already Obama polls at just a 31 percent approval rating on the immigration issue. If he were to take such a rash step his presidency could well implode—particularly when the butcher’s bill comes in the November elections. Democratic senators Mary Landrieu, Kay Hagan, Mark Pryor and Mark Udall, all of whom currently have fighting chances at re-election, would be roadkill.
And once he’s squandered his Senate majority and becomes a lame-duck president, the internecine fighting within Obama’s party would transcend the imaginations of the folks who write House of Cards.
The piece goes on to say that the things we conservatives are screaming the House GOP leadership ought to be doing about Obama’s lawlessness – impeachment, cutting off his funding – are only going to backfire. You can’t impeach him because the Senate won’t remove him, and he’s out raising money off Democrat fears of impeachment – which is prompting many to ask whether the Democrat screaming over an impeachment which is not in the offing isn’t an attempt at innoculation against impeachment when he does go for a mass amnesty through executive fiat. And you can’t use the power of the purse to stop his lawlessness, because…
And it gets worse. The purse is no help. If you defund certain parts of the government in an effort to get him to change policy, Harry Reid will kill your budget bill in the Senate and that will lead to a shutdown: bad politics, especially in an election year.
And as it happens, because of the way we know Obama does business if there is a shutdown he’ll make sure the Border Patrol leaves the border wide open and ICE opens those detention facilities so all the tattoo-faced MS-13 goons who make up a terrifying percentage of the current influx through our border will have the run of the country.
Meaning that any attempt to use the power of the purse to close the border will have the unintended consequence of wiping out the border. Plus, conservatives will be the ones who get clobbered in the November congressional races for having tried to restore lawful governance to the executive branch.
All we can do is take control of the Senate away from Obama and Reid, and then use that power to change the political calculus in Washington. You really can use the power of the purse when you have both houses of Congress – at that point Obama can veto all he wants, but he’s going to look like the guy screwing up Washington at that point (not to mention his approval ratings don’t exactly confer a lot of political capital on him to engage in too much activism out on a limb.
But if Obama should go for executive mass amnesty, he’ll kill his party for a good while. And there is no guarantee of a long-term payoff that the millions of illegals getting amnesty will, when they ultimately become voters down the road, make for a more left-friendly electorate. It’s entirely possible enough of these people would assimilate enough to become swing voters or even Republicans, and the ripple effect of making them legal on other communities – Asians, blacks and white milennials who’ll have to compete against them for jobs, for example – is unknown. It’s possible you might make more Republican voters out of other demographic groups infuriated by that amnesty than you make Democrat voters out of the recipients of that amnesty.
So it’s a really lousy idea, and he ought not do it for his own political reasons.
That was my take on Monday. Here is the National Journal’s Ron Fournier on the same subject today…
For argument’s sake, let’s say Obama is right on the issue and has legal authority to act. The big question is …
Would it be wrong to end-run Congress? Another way to put it might be, “Would more polarization in Washington and throughout the country be wrong?” How about exponentiallymore polarization, gridlock, and incivility? If the president goes too far, he owns that disaster.
The most important context to consider is the mood of the country. Eighty-percent of Americans think the political system is broken, according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, the same percentage that disapproves of Congress. A strong majority think Obama is doing a poor job as president. What those numbers tell me: Most Americans understand that both parties are responsible, though not equally, for breaking politics
In a landmark study, the Pew Research Center recently concluded that Americans “are more polarized along partisan lines than at any point in the past 25 years.” The average gap in views between Democratic and Republican partisans has nearly doubled, with most of the increase scored during the Bush-Obama era.
My colleague Ron Brownstein wrote a watershed book in 2007, “The Second Civil War,” that spoke of this divide. “The political system has evolved to a point where the vast majority of elected officials in each party feel comfortable only advancing ideas acceptable to their core supporters – their “base,” in the jargon of modern campaigns. But progress against these problems, and almost all other challenges facing America, requires comprehensive solutions that marry ideas favored by one party and opposed by the other.”
Regardless of the justification, acting alone denies Obama a full view of the problem and, with no marriage of ideas, he almost certainly exacerbates the “dangerous impasse” that Brownstein labeled a civil war.
New York Times columnist Ross Douthat argues that this isn’t merely a case of a president responding to a do-nothing Congress. “It’s limited caesarism as a calculated strategy, intended to both divide the opposition and lay the groundwork for more aggressive unilateralism down the road.” If you don’t buy any other argument, consider this one: Endowing the presidency with extraordinary power would be an extremely short-sighted and selfish move.
Does Obama and fellow Democrats really think the Oval Office will never again be occupied by a Republican?
Fournier doesn’t talk about what the Republican reaction might be. But he does note that if Obama does what he’s threatening to do he’ll muck up American politics in a major way.
He misses the strong chance the American people will revolt against Obama’s party, which is a question of perspective – Fournier is most concerned about whether folks in Washington get along, since he’s a Beltway insider who wants the cocktail parties to be jovial. For the rest of us out here in the boonies we don’t have a problem with gridlock and dysfunction; it so happens that’s how the Founders wanted things to be, and in fact if there is to be gridlock and dysfunction in DC that’s a great argument to move as much power to states and local governments as possible, so that Louisiana doesn’t have to be outvoted by California or New York on policy that ought to be our business.
But in either case, you have to be out of your mind to even consider something like what Obama is hinting at. When Ron Fournier agrees with me on that issue, that’s a pretty broad consensus.