Against a backdrop of rancorous and reckless partisan bickering, President Obama offered yet another example of how dysfunctional Washington has become. Speaking to the annual convention of the National Council of La Raza, Mr. Obama engaged in rhetorical grandstanding and partisan finger-pointing designed to placate a narrow special interest the president believes will help him in his bid for a second term.

While La Raza bills itself as a Hispanic civil rights group, its real focus is creating a power base for itself to wrest money from taxpayer and corporate America to pursue its own political agenda. Central to that agenda – though not necessarily to the agenda of ordinary Hispanic Americans – is amnesty for millions of illegal aliens and massive future immigration opportunities for people who happen to share their ethnic background.

Noticeably absent from the president’s remarks to La Raza were calls for shared sacrifice, or putting the national interest ahead of parochial concerns. While President Obama has been lecturing Americans generally to “eat your peas,” he was offered ice cream and chocolate cake to La Raza and blamed his political opponents for the failure to deliver those treats.

Monday’s speech could have provided an opportunity for the president to demonstrate his willingness to demonstrate that he could deliver unpleasant news to a key political ally. The president could have used the opportunity to let La Raza and similar advocacy groups know that mass amnesty and massive increases in the admission of poorly skilled immigrants is a luxury that a nation with a $14 trillion debt, chronic unemployment, crumbling infrastructure, and myriad other problems simply cannot afford.

President Obama did not deliver that message. Once again, he chose the interests of his political base over the best interests of the nation. Sadly, that’s par for the course in Washington these days.