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“President Declares a Political War He is Bound to Lose” By Clark S. Judge

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The weekly column rom Clark Judge:

President Declares a Political War He is Bound to Lose
By Clark S. Judge: managing director, White House Writers Group, Inc.; chairman, Pacific Research Institute

President Obama’s speech to the nation last night – carried on cable news channels but not on the broadcast networks – was a declaration of political war, a war the president is almost certain to lose.

How nakedly political was it? According to morning press reports (, the address was subtitled in Spanish. Perhaps the White House has provided this service before, but I can’t find a record of it. That the president’s team decided to do it for, apparently, the first time this time only confirms the obvious. The speech was not about national policy or the national interest. It was about confrontation. And indeed its raw political purpose was the reason the major television networks gave on background for refusing to carry it (

Still, on its surface, it was a pretty good statement. The president pointed to success in securing the border, the failure of which has been a major obstacle to Congressional approval of immigration reform. He offered immediate aid to university students from other countries, another big issue and one that, like border security, Republicans have championed. And his path to citizenship (“back of the line”, pay fines, wait years) for illegals was much like what many in both parties have advocated for years.

What was not to like?

Well, first, the border security data to which Mr. Obama pointed was a product of statistical slight of hand ( Late in the George W. Bush years, the government changed the way it counted deportations, the number the president cited. It started counting people turned away at or near the border, which before the change it had not done. The truth is, according to a story the LA. Times ran earlier this year (at the prior link), expulsions of illegal immigrants of the kind who have always been counted “have fallen steadily since [Mr. Obama’s] first year in office, and are down more than 40% since 2009.”

The president pointed to drops in illegal immigrants in the United States. But the their number (see chart at Daily Mail link above) is off only about ten percent from its 2007 peak. All of that change was achieved in 2008 and 2009 as a result of Bush Administration policies and, surely more important than any other factor, the failing U.S. economy.

In other words, the case the president presented for setting aside the key obstacle to broad reform – border security – was false. Totally false.

So, too, was the president’s political case, that Congress had failed to act, so he had to. In our system, it is the Congress’ prerogative not to act. Without statutory authority or pursuant to a constitutional authorization, the president may not act on his own – in anything. Mr. Obama himself has repeatedly stated that as president he does not have legal authority to do what he did last night ( He was right when he made those statements. Only his view of political interest has changed.

Here is what it comes down to. Two of the biggest objections from Americans of all political stripe to Mr. Obama’s tenure – and key reasons for his abysmal approval ratings – are that 1) again and again he has failed tell the truth and 2) again and again he has failed to work effectively with members of Congress, any members of Congress, of either party.

Last night’s address only confirmed the reasons the American people have turned so sour on President Obama.


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