Before the ink was dry on the Supreme Court’s mixed decision on Arizona’s immigration control law, President Obama was calling for “comprehensive immigration reform.” By that he means, in essence, eventual citizenship for illegal aliens in exchange for more promises of enforcement that he and, in all likelihood, his successors won’t fulfill.
The Democrats firmly controlled both chambers of Congress for two years, so Obama could have proposed and likely passed comprehensive immigration reform if he had wanted to. Apparently, it not become clear to the president that this is “the right thing to do” until the electoral calculus pointed that way.
But it isn’t just as president that Obama has behaved opportunistically on immigration reform. In 2007, John McCain actively sought comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate. Last night on Greta Van Susteren’s show, McCain recalled the double game Obama played during those contentious days.
McCain and Ted Kennedy organized a group to steer their immigration proposal through the Senate. According to McCain, their guiding principle was to oppose all amendments to the legislation they constructed – even amendments they personally liked. This was of fundamental importance because the group understood that amendments would peel off support for the bill.
Obama joined the steering group. It was “the right thing” for an ambitious politician to do. But according to McCain, he rarely attended the meetings.
Much worse than that, Obama proposed an amendment to the legislation, in direct violation of the group’s agreed upon strategy. The amendment apparently pandered to unions on the farm labor portion of the bill. Had Obama’s amendment been accepted, it have ensured the defeat of the reform package. Again, members of the McCain-Kennedy group had agreed not to support, never mind sponsor, amendments for just this reason.
McCain says that Ted Kennedy was appalled. I’m not surprised. For all of his faults, Kennedy was an honorable man when it came to the legislative process.
As for Obama, he rejected the “false choice” between honorable, responsible behavior and irresponsible, cynical opportunism.
This president has demonstrated repeatedly that, in his manipulative mind, the rules don’t apply to him. Republican should say “hell no” to whatever this man happens to be peddling at any given moment.