For the past several years, President Obama has been telling the illegal alien lobby that he does not have the constitutional authority to grant broad administrative amnesty. Then, suddenly, around March 2014, the president decided that maybe he did – or at least maybe his Secretary of Homeland Security and Attorney General could manufacture some flimsy claim to such authority.
In doing so, the president raised the expectations of the amnesty lobby and the left wing of the Democratic Party to a fever pitch. At the same time, he has also stoked the anger of a broad swath of the American electorate – 70 percent of whom view illegal immigration as a threat to traditional U.S. beliefs and customs. That’s not 70 percent of Republicans or conservatives; that’s 70 percent of American society.
In turn, talk of a broad administrative amnesty is striking fear and anxiety in the hearts of Democratic politicians in all but the bluest of blue states and districts. They know how to read polls. Suddenly, leading Democratic senators, like Majority Leader Harry Reid (who does not want to become Minority Leader), Majority Whip Dick Durbin, and Chuck Schumer, who just a few months ago were exhorting the president to “go big,” have gone strangely silent.
Now the president is in a pickle. Moving ahead with his threatened abuse of discretionary authority to grant amnesty to some 5-6 million illegal aliens would likely prove fatal to Democratic candidates just about everywhere. If he does not act, after all but promising the amnesty coalition that he would, he risks alienating his party’s left wing base, whose high turn-out rate in 2008 and 2012 put him in the White House and kept the Senate in Democratic hands.
It turns out that the smartest thing Barack Obama could have done in this instance would have been just to have listened to Barack Obama.