Lose-Lose for the President

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Regardless of what White House Press Secretary John Earnest is saying, all is not well at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Ever since President Obama announced his intention to delay executive action on illegal immigration, he’s faced a firestorm of criticism from his left flank and those who were promised bold, broad actions in granting millions of illegal immigrants some form of amnesty.

While most Americans are breathing a collective sigh of relief over the delay, the Administration is now sweating how the decision put his party in double jeopardy: Democrats were damned by executive amnesty angering Americans and now, they’re damned by the delay angering their base.

The litany of accusations hurled by Democrats, activists and even media pundits has put the White House in full spin mode trying to rationalize the sudden postponement. In a Meet the Press interview, Obama said that he “want[ed] to make sure that the public understands why we’re doing this, why it’s the right thing for the American people, why it’s the right thing for the American economy.” Having a “sustainable” solution was key. [1]

However, it’s plain that Obama’s decision had nothing to do with public understanding and everything to do with helping vulnerable Democrats “sustain” their political careers past the November election, prompting Major Garrett of CBS News to call out the President on his excuse.

“The president clearly doesn’t need nine weeks to explain this to the American people. If he wanted to explain it he could explain it just like he is going to try to explain the strategy on Wednesday. It seems to me the only rational explanation for this is an intervening midterm election and fears from Senate Democrats that they did not want to take this issue on in an already tough political environment.” [2]

It is this slap in the face that has angered the President’s pro-illegal immigration allies, with some predicting lower voter turnout by Democrats this fall.

“Immigration activist Erika Andiola warned President Obama that his party may face electoral consequences over his failure to enact executive amnesty before the November elections. …

‘I can tell you that [in] a lot of local races, people are not going to feel as engaged to go out and vote as they did before, because they just keep hearing promises being broken by the president,’ Andiola explained. ‘So it’s just — we’re not in a good situation.’” [3]

Greg Sargent, a left-leaning blogger for the Washington Post who keeps his fingers on the pulse of Democratic thinking, shares those concerns.

“But the flip side is that by delaying action that Obama had been tantalizingly waving in front of immigration activists for months, he has also risked demoralizing his own base in the run up to the election. As Sargent writes, ‘Immigration advocates, who have been asked to place their demands for deportation relief on hold for months and months — each time getting promised action was right around the corner — will be enraged, however, and there will now be a very bitter dispute between the White House and Senate Dems and a key component of their base.’” [4]

News-Press.com notes, “Obama will feel compelled to act after the elections out of desire to enhance his legacy as a problem-solver on behalf of a much-aggrieved Hispanic constituency.” [5] However, here is where the danger lies for the President and his party.

“[T]he ideas the White House had been considering will be no less counterproductive post-November than they are now. A presidential directive with the potential to excite a full-blown constitutional crisis could not help but be harmful to a Democrat running for the presidency in 2016.” [5]

In the end, amnesty is still amnesty no matter when it falls on the calendar. As polls have shown, a significant majority of Americans want policies that secure the border, respect the rule of law, and honor legal immigrants who played by the rules.

Whether Obama acts now or later, it is a lose-lose situation for the President and his party.