The Washington Post's editorial board, not known for its staunch conservatism, has been warning the White House for months against implementing the executive amnesty President Obama is expected to announce tonight. In August, the Post published a stern house editorial that laid out the stakes and Constitutional context of the administration's then-rumored action:
Congress is a mess. But that doesn’t grant the president license to tear up the Constitution. As Mr. Obama himself said last fall: “If, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so. But we’re also a nation of laws.” To act on his own, the president said, would violate those laws. Mr. Obama now seems to be jettisoning that stance in the name of rallying his political base. He is considering extending temporary protection from deportation to millions of illegal immigrants, including the parents of U.S.-born children and others who have lived in the United States for years. Conceivably, this would give Democrats a political boost in 2016. Just as conceivably, it would trigger a constitutional showdown with congressional Republicans, who could make a cogent argument that Mr. Obama had overstepped his authority.
Confronted with this stark assessment on MSNBC's Morning Joe, White House adviser Jennifer Palmieri laughed off the criticism (presidential spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters yesterday that Obama sees "emperor" criticisms as a "badge of honor"). We're not tearing up the Constitution, she said with a grin -- adding that the administration's stab at a legal justification for this action will be revealed after the policy has been announced:
During a follow-up question from Scarborough, co-host Mika Brzezinski interjects a comment about the president's own assessments on the legality of this move. She's referring to the many, many times Obama has explained that he lacks the authority to do the very thing he's going to do in a few hours. You'll be seeing this WFB video a lot around here as the executive power grab debate unfolds:
Palmieri, by the way, deflected the question and retrained her focus on helping illegal immigrants, saying, "after two years, there's just no credible reason to continue to ask these people to wait." The 'these people' in that sentence refers, if I'm not mistaken, to immigrants who came to the US illegally as adults. I'm not sure how many Americans will be swayed by the argument that the United States owes millions of illegal immigrants closure as soon as possible, and that it's immoral for them to "wait" until, say, Congress passes a law -- which is how our system works. (See Obama, above). Earlier we asked how the GOP might respond to Obama's decree (and here's an example of how they shouldn't). Sen. Mitch McConnell delivered a sober floor speech this morning, attacking the White House's policy, warning about the larger separation of powers issue at play, and issuing a nonspecific warning that Congress will retaliate in some fashion:
“If the President truly follows through on this attempt to impose his will unilaterally, he will have issued a rebuke to his own stated view of democracy...the action the President is proposing isn’t about solutions. It isn’t about compassion. It seems to be about what a political party thinks would make for good politics. It seems to be about what a President thinks would be good for his legacy. Those are not the motivations that should be driving such sweeping action. And I think the President will come to regret the chapter history writes if he does move forward. Because the plan he’s presenting is more than just, as the President himself has acknowledged, an overreach — it’s also unfair. What does the President have to say to the countless aspiring immigrants who’ve spent years waiting patiently in line? To the people who’ve played by all the rules? Where is his compassion for them?...If President Obama acts in defiance of the people and imposes his will on the country, Congress will act. We’re considering a variety of options. But make no mistake. When the newly elected representatives of the people take their seats, they will act.
This is a very serious issue, and it requires a serious, level-headed response. Among the challenges facing Republicans in reacting appropriately is the fawning news coverage this action will receive in many quarters, especially in the Spanish-language media: "A triumph."