First, he jetted off to China and Australia for APEC and G-20 Summits. Upon arrival, he rocked the host country's spiffy purple get-up, managed to isolate our nemesis Mr. Putin regarding Ukraine, achieved commitment of First World leaders to expansionist economic policies (finally!), and flew home with a surprise US-China climate pact that sets the stage for a broader, global agreement next year. Implementation work will begin in LA (where better?). When the world's two biggest carbon polluters make directional progress to reduce emissions, it helps everybody else get to the table in an agreeable frame of mind.
That's some agile duckitude, but he wasn't finished. This week, he finally made good on his promise to take unilateral action on domestic issues when Congress refuses to govern.
In particular, he formally, finally announced executive action to focus immigration enforcement resources on finding and deporting that portion of the eleven million souls here without papers, who are up-to-no-good. His action also paves the way for some five million illegals to emerge from the shadows. For the record, 6.7 million are from Mexico, and 1.2 million from Asia ? five of the top ten countries-of-origin are Asian. Some two million people have been deported during the Obama Presidency ? indeed, the advocacy organization La Raza calls him the Deporter-in-Chief.
A bit of historical context, here. The failed immigration system of our fair land has been a festering problem since before those misty, water-colored Reagan years. That administration passed IRCA, the most recent inadequate overhaul, in 1986, and both he and Mr. Bush, the Elder took similar executive actions on behalf of illegals here at the time. In his 2013 State of the Union address, the current President urged: "Let's get this done. Send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and I will sign it right away."
The Senate, with supporters and opponents on both sides of the aisle, hammered-out a bi-partisan bill in June, 2013. In the ensuing year-and-a-half, the House has refused to consider the Senate bill, and has not crafted its own version. There have always been enough votes to pass it, but Speaker Boehner refused to bring it up -- fearing a rift in his own Party between the pass-oriented moderates and the punishment-seeking TeaPers. Governing is hard, and sometimes the hardest fights are within the walls. It seems that voting 54 times to repeal ObamaCare was less difficult for that body of political thespians.
So what the Prez did last week is not only pragmatic and humanitarian (and I believe it's legal), it is also a goad to the Congress, to, you know, actually Govern. Intractable opposition -- that GOP staple of the past six years -- is a whole lot easier, and it has been remarkably successful, politically. Governing is more difficult, involving hard choices and accountability, inside and outside the friendly Party confines.
It's not clear that they will actually act, however. In the wake of the immigration action, House Republicans finally filed a long-anticipated lawsuit against the Administration, regarding its implementation of ObamaCare. We'll set aside, for now, the irony that they claim the hated health care law was not implemented fast enough.
Part of the filing delay derives from the fact that the first two law firms who agreed to handle the matter ? both excellent, mainline establishments (Baker Hostetler and Quinn Emanuel) both withdrew from the representation. The GOP claims that their 'liberal business clients' objected, but just pause and let that phrase roll around in your brain for a sec. The much better explanation is that they concluded it's a dish worthy of your Thanksgiving table (which it is). Still, litigating, too, is easier than governing. Perhaps impeachment will follow, as their next time-waster?
But here's an alternative ? pass a bill and force to Administration to deal.
In a broader political sense, the Midterms Democrat debacle (such as it is, meaning it's a lot less than reported by the herd) derives from the fact that they allowed the GOP to control the dialog. Too many Dem candidates have become Republican-light. Republicans won because Democrat voters stayed home, in dismay at the wretched alternatives with which they were presented.
If the Dems want to win in 2016, they need to start acting like Democrats, and present "a choice, not an echo" (Remember that one? It's a great image, even if it didn't work out so well for Mr. Goldwater). They will have to move Left, channeling anger against worsening economic inequity in general, and Wall Street in particular. They must champion tax rate reform, carbon pollution initiatives, values-based foreign policy, campaign finance reform and personal privacy.
It's not clear that they will, as frontrunner Hillary Clinton is hawkish and has hands deep in the deep pockets of the money-changers. Grace of the horrid Citizens United Supreme Court decision, Big Money does have a strong grip on policy. That stranglehold must be broken, if democracy is to long endure. Citizens with money are much 'more equal than others' who lack such resources. Still, Senator Warren's ascension to policy prominence within the restive Democratic coalition conveys a certain level of optimism.
And, freed of the surly bonds of political expediencies and cautions of meeker colleagues, Mr. Obama has made a good start on the process. He's finally dancing to his own tune again, and looks more nimble than lame. That's some duck.