Actually, only one person asked. And to be truthful, they only asked if I watched the speech, not what I thought about it. The answer was no, I didn’t watch it. I waited until morning and read the transcribed version, which took under two minutes, rather than the 15 minutes it took for him to deliver it.
I further found it interesting that he didn’t actually say much. For all the cheering from immigrants who watched, and all the blistering rhetoric delivered by Republicans afterward, the actions announced by President Barack Obama last night seemed very small an ineffectual to me.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) called it a “brazen power grab that doesn’t solve the real problems”, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the president has “squandered what little credibility he had left”. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) added that Obama would “regret choosing to ignore the will of the American people”.
McCarthy is right that Obama’s plans don’t solve real problems, but the rest of the statements were not factually correct, or didn’t really say anything at all. McConnell surely knows that a large majority of U.S.ians favor the “path to citizenship” approach that Obama announced. Boehner also knows that “credibility” comes from doing what you said you would do, which is what Obama did. And McCarthy knows that Obama didn’t grab any power.
What did Obama’s speech actually promise? 1. Additional resources at the border, “so that they can stem the flow of illegal crossings, and speed the return of those who do cross over”. 2. “Make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy”. 3. Continue record pace of deportation. 4. Temporary work permits for illegal immigrants with no criminal background.
The first three are actually things that Republicans want anyway. It’s the last point that apparently has certain rightists up in arms. My view on it: it’s impractical (read: impossible) to round up and deport millions of people who are just living and working here. Most of us don’t want that to happen anyway. So this way makes sense.
Another sticking point for some conservative pundits (and a few elected Republicans) is that Obama is doing this via “executive order”. I posted earlier this year the figures on that, that Obama’s pace of issuing executive orders is the slowest of all modern presidents, that you have to go back to Grover Cleveland to find a president with less, and the numbers are still the same. Not only are executive orders entirely legal, they’re actually required for some parts of the president’s job in the modern era.
For those (like Ted Cruz, Michelle Bachmann, Boehner’s spokesperson, Rand Paul, etc.) who’ve stupidly declared that Obama is now a dictator, emperor, monarch, autocrat, and so on, my suggestion is that they should live under a dictator for a few years and see if it’s the same as living here.
Cruz raved in lunacy: “It is lawless. It is unconstitutional. He is defiant and angry at the American people. If he acts by executive diktat, President Obama will not be acting as a president, he will be acting as a monarch.” He went on, accusing Obama of changing the law — which isn’t the case, as Cruz knows — the president cannot make, change, or undo any laws.
I’ve made no secret of my disappointment in Obama, but what he announced last night was so far from deserving of this idiotic response that the responses themselves nearly proved Obama correct. I say “nearly” because Obama’s announced actions stand on their own merits as legal.
For me, this is another proof that elected Republicans in Congress will oppose what Obama does regardless of what it is he does, even it’s something they like. See this Key & Peele comedy sketch (2:46) for a humorous illustration of this.