On the heels of House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) decision to file a lawsuit against President Obama for Presidenting While Black, the President announced this afternoon that he will take any and all executive actions he can in order to fix our immigration system. In a fifteen-minute Rose Garden address, Obama lashed out at Republicans in the House who have obstructed comprehensive immigration reform, while praising those in the House and Senate who have shown willingness to compromise. Then, he dropped the E-bomb.
“There are others in the Republican caucus and the House who are arguing they cannot act because they’re mad at me about using my executive authority too broadly,” the President said, a fairly direct reference to Boehner’s lawsuit, adding, “This also makes no sense. I do not prefer taking administrative action. I would rather see permanent fixes to the issue we face.”
But then, the President broadened the scope of his argument somewhat, adding that not only is this true of immigration, but also the minimum wage and equal pay. “There are whole bunch of things where I would greatly prefer Congress actually do something,” he said. “I take executive action only when we have a serious problem, a serious issue, and Congress chooses to do nothing.”
Returning to immigration and the current crisis around unaccompanied children being apprehended at the border, the President said, “America cannot wait forever for them to act. That is why today, I am beginning a new effort to fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own, without Congress.”
Obama announced several steps, including a review, by Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, of “additional actions my administration can take, within my existing legal authorities, to do what Congress refuses to do, and fix as much of the immigration system as I can.”
“I expect a recommendation before the end of the summer,” he continued, and added “I intend to adopt the recommendations without further delay.”
Then, he dropped the mic, and walked the fuck off, while Joe Biden kicked the podium over on its side. Or, at least, they should have. Here are the President’s full remarks:
This past week or so, with the egregiouslyshitty Supreme Court decisions and transparently obstructionist moves by Republicans, has provided Democrats with a treasure trove of opportunities to surprise the Beltway press and actually make some gains in the midterms, and the White House has been furiously dropping bread crumbs for them. The question is whether Democrats will take Obama up on his invitation to get out of their midterm election defensive crouch.
Since Boehner announced his lawsuit, the White House has consistently dared Republicans to fight the President’s executive actions on substantive grounds, to come out and say they want to deport DREAMers, or allow federal contractors to discriminate. The Supreme Court’sHobby Lobby decision has reopened the fight over Obamacare but on terrain in which most people stand on the side of their own religious freedom (or freedom from it), rather than their bosses.’
The President delivered a hard body shot today, but this appears, to me, to be a strategy that has been in the works for a while now. With his approval ratings in the tank, and Congress happy to keep them there by not doing shit, President Obama appears to be deploying his personal likability in order to expose the Republicans’ game, and give Democrats something to run against in November.
It cannot escape the White House’s notice that Obama’s impromptu walkabout last month has become the White House’s third most popular video of all time, hot on the heels of the killing of Osama bin Laden and the aftermath of the Newtown shooting. Since then, the President has done a few more of those, and has cut loose, in interviews and speeches, about Republican obstruction and dumbassery. Now, with this move, he’s escalating what viewers of The West Wing will recognize as the “Let Obama be Obama” strategy.
Democrats don’t have to run with Obama, or on his accomplishments, but rather, on the issues that the President is drawing Republicans out on. The question is, will they be smart enough to do so, or will they run away like they did in 2010?