How Should Republicans Respond to Obama's Executive Amnesty?

Posted: Nov 20, 2014 10:33 AM

By now you know that this move is no longer hypothetical; it's officially coming. Tonight.  The president's power grab is unpopular with the public, even with a favorably-worded poll question from NBC, and becomes even more lopsided when properly framed as a separation-of-powers issue.  Team Obama doesn't care, evidently, and this is why:

How can elected Republicans express their justifiable outrage over the president's dangerous broadside against our Constitutional order (that's how Obama himself routinely and correctly cast this move until recently) without falling into the political trap of coming across as intemperate and hostile to Latinos (which is how much of the media is eager to cover all of this)?  National Review's Charles Cooke dispensed some wise, broad-strokes advice on Twitter yesterday, advising the GOP to control its tone, make clear that this principle transcends the issue of immigration, and 'calmly but firmly' explain the institutional peril at play:

Cooke admits that he's in furious "pitchforks" mode, but he recognizes that boiling over in anger plays into Obama's hands.  He also recommends that Republicans ask their Hispanic members to lead the public charge against the executive action, as cynical and unseemly as that may seem.  On a policy level, Conn reported on a "rescission" de-funding option some Congressional Republicans are considering -- a plan that some conservatives are rejecting as insufficient.  Allahpundit is urging the GOP to explicitly spell out precisely how a Republican president might apply Obama's abusive precedent to achieve domestic policy goals that would have liberals shrieking with rage.  The always thoughtful Pete Wehner surveys Republicans' options and renders fairly similar advice to Cooke's, albeit with a few more specifics:

Because I believe that what the president is about to do is egregious–constitutionally and institutionally, as an aggressive attack on the role of Congress and the separation of powers–I’m open to all sorts of recourses. Certainly Republicans in Congress need to respond in some manner. Those advocating a government shutdown aren’t being moronic or irresponsible; they want to protect our constitutional form of government. But neither are those who are warning against a shutdown being weak, impotent, or cowardly. It’s a matter on which intelligent people can disagree. If you believe as I do that a government shutdown would in the end hurt more than help the conservative cause–that it simply won’t achieve its aim and it will cause collateral damage in the process–the obvious thing to do is to shift the fight onto terrain that is more favorable to the GOP. Republicans should therefore amass all the actions at their disposal to inflict maximum damage on Mr. Obama while not walking into his government shutdown trap.

I wonder, for example, whether Republicans might simply refuse to act on the president’s judicial and Cabinet nominees unless and until he undoes his (forthcoming) executive action. Can similar steps be taken on a range of other issues? Can Republicans basically hit the “off” switch when it comes to the normal procedures and cooperation that takes place between a president and Congress, regardless of which party is in control? It does strike me that we are facing an exceptional situation; that the president is inviting this needless confrontation and that he needs to pay quite a high price for it. It won’t be as high as many of us wish, but we have to adjust around that fact. The challenge for conservatives is to act in ways that are wise and realistic; that are guided not by fury but by clear thinking; and that ultimately persuade people to our point of view. We need calm, sober, intelligent, and enlightened individuals who can advance the arguments for constitutionalism and the rule of law. Because right now we have a president who is subverting both.

And once again, the "plenty of precedent" argument the Left is already employing is deliberately tendentious and distortive. Via the Free Beacon, I'll leave you with President Obama, constitutional scholar, explaining in 2012 why he lacks the authority to execute the exact action he's going to announce tonight.  "That's just not the case"