My friend Bill Otis responds to John’s post, which expressed surprise that President Obama is talking about immigration, given the unpopularity of the administration’s position on that subject. Bill writes:
My view is that Obama is starting to talk about immigration because, although he surely knows it’s a big loser, it’s less of a loser than the items from which he hopes the immigration yacking wil distract attention, to wit, that the oil catastrophe continues apace while he is helpless and inert, and that there is a tepid recovery, if any, with a pitance of private sector jobs. Indeed, we might be looking at a double-dip, because business itself has become cautious about the destabalizing effects of limitless debt, not to mention the new taxes and mandates that are headed its way.
A 60% loser is better than a 90% loser.
Obama’s position on immigration presumably does have the support of a larger segment of the public than that which believes Obama is doing a good job with the oil spill or the economy. But his position also reinforces the perception that Obama would rather impose his left-wing agenda than address the concerns of Americans. That perception, I believe, is a big contributor to Obama’s loss of popularity.
When it comes to the economy, most Americans believe that an economic crisis is the proper occasion for spending less and getting our finances in order, i.e. in alignment with the reality that has just smacked us in the face. Obama believes that such a crisis is an opportunity to spend money on pet social and economic projects.
When it comes to immigration, most Americans believe we should enforce existing laws. Obama says he’s willing to do so, but only as part of a “comprehensive” solution that would reward millions of illegal immigrants. However, the president has an absolute obligation to enforce the existing law, not to do so only in exchange for Congress giving him a new law that furthers his agenda.
Obama counters that he can’t enforce existing law because the border is too long. But the public does not believe (nor do I) that he is making a serious effort. For example, as Victor Davis Hanson noted, Obama has ordered a halt to construction of the border fence.
The suspicion thus arises that Obama doesn’t mind if the situation along the border deteriorates. For such deterioration would create (and probably has created) a crisis, and a crisis might provide him the opportunity to enact legislation that would facilitate granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants.