Before the election, I said “Obama might be forced to get serious about accommodation with Republicans, on such urgent issues as tax reform and immigration, to avoid his second term being even more conspicuously a failure than it already is.”
I should have known better.
In his news conference, the President refused to acknowledge the obvious, that Republicans won not due to their popularity, but his unpopularity. Instead, he said, what voters really showed is that they want both parties to get stuff done. Then he proceeded to do all he could to make that impossible.
This is the hallmark of Obama’s presidency, beginning with his first campaign promising some sort of post-partisan politics with old divisions put aside; then even before taking office, closing Republicans out of his putative love-in.
And so it continues. What Obama really means by working together is Republicans just giving in to him. His news conference resembled the bumper sticker, “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” Just substitute “I” for “God.”
So, after over three years of slow-walking the Keystone XL pipeline, conducting reviews, reviews of reviews, and reviews of those reviews, paralyzed between economic benefits and the environmentalist scolds in his base, Obama finally seems set to coddle them and veto it.
The re-re-reviews have shown no material environmental problem, with the economics clearly favorable. Obama could, perfectly reasonably, give Republicans at least this one thing. But no. Instead, with dubious justification on the merits, he must stick his thumb in their eye.
Likewise with immigration. I actually favor the measures Obama is readying. But doing it by executive order is the political equivalent of suicide bombing. It is simply declaring war against the Republicans – when they’ve just decisively won an election* and will control both houses of Congress. Obama’s action (subject to reversal by a future president) will kill hopes for a permanent legislative solution, which might otherwise have been promising. (And, while perhaps not palpably unconstitutional, such a far-reaching policy initiative without congressional consultation savages the spirit of our republican system.) This will furthermore poison the air for cooperation on any other issues.
Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson says Obama’s action will bring about exactly what voters hate: “overreach, backlash, deadlock, threats and lasting bitterness.” (Just like with Obamacare.)
Meantime, Obama and Democrats are whining that the election results shouldn’t much count because of all the non-voters who would have voted Democratic. Of course, it’s chutzpah to presume how they would have voted; paternalistically taking people for granted. Dems made gigantic efforts to get their (presumed) supporters to turn out. But many didn’t turn out because they weren’t turned on, by what Democrats were selling. That resounding silence of voters Dems thought were theirs ought to tell the party something. Instead, they continue to act as though these voters belong to them, even though the voters withheld their votes. In a sense they were voting by not voting, conveying a message Obama and Democrats refuse to hear.
Anyhow, in our democratic country, voters rule. Not non-voters.
* Far more so than the supposedly “decisive” 2012 result which, in fact, was just 51% for Obama, with a bunch of key states won by razor-thin margins.