Last night, Barack Obama admitted that he has rewritten the immigration laws of the United States:
**Watch** Obama to immigration hecklers: "I just took an action to change the law” http://t.co/oywNBBCwIK
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) November 25, 2014
Pres Obama tells hecklers it doesn't make sense for them to yell at him now that he's making changes in the immigration laws.
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) November 25, 2014
As I noted last week, Obama and his team have been playing a rather clever game with this order. When they have been challenged, his apologists have insisted that the action was routine, limited, and legal – merely an exercise of discretion as warranted by the statute itself. Article II, Schmarticle II. When the same people have been selling the measure, by contrast, they have characterized it as a sweeping and heroic change — representing, in the words of Jorge Ramos, “the most important immigration move in almost 50 years.” Being adults, we should not be surprised to see this game being played. Nevertheless, we should perhaps be alarmed to see the president admitting so quickly in public that he has just done what he claims officially that he can not do. Frankly, if I had spent the last two weeks covering for the White House, I’d be more than a little vexed this morning.
Why did he do it? Well, my suspicion is that he couldn’t help himself. From what I can gather, Obama really is as thin-skinned as he seems to be, and he really cannot bear to see those whom he believes he is helping confirming in public that they think ill of him. In consequence, he seems to say whatever he needs to say in the moment to recast himself as the good guy — whatever it does to his broader goals and his messaging. Back in the day, Obama tried to shut down immigration hecklers by casting his opponents as the bad eggs and by making it abundantly clear that he did not have the power to do what he would like to do. “If I were an emperor,” Obama would say, “I’d help you.” Translation: Please love me. Having decided to play emperor after all, he is now shutting down hecklers by reminding them that he just took a constitutionally infamous step on their behalf. “I helped you at great cost to the nation’s system of government,” he seems to be saying, “and you’re still angry.” Translation, again: Please love me.
Much of this is, of course, of Obama’s own making. Having run as a savior who would heal the country and spread hope and change for all mankind, Obama has discovered that politics ain’t beanbag and that free people are diverse and divided for good and long-standing and deep-seated reasons. I daresay that this realization has been deeply upsetting for him and his most devoted followers, and that it is only human to rationalize away your failures and to try to bring back the glory days. Still, it’s no way to run a country.