The Politics of Procrastination

So it turns out that President Barack Obama won’t be signing any executive orders granting amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants until after the mid-term elections, apparently on the assumption that uniformed voters won’t punish his party for an unpopular policy that he promises but hasn’t quite yet enacted. How very frustrating to realize that he might well be right.
The ploy has worked well enough before, after all. Various unpopular aspects of the Obamacare law were delayed until after the past presidential election and some are still being delayed for the benefit of Democratic congressional incumbents, and the many millions of Americans who like their health care plans and have been promised that they can keep their health care plans thus far don’t seem to mind that sooner or later they are going to lose their health care plans. During the past campaign the president was overheard promising the Russian leadership that after the election he could be “more flexible” regarding that country’s avaricious geo-political ambitions, and it wasn’t until after the president was re-elected that the public noticed an unfortunately flexible the post-war world order has suddenly become. A reported plan to stick the country with economy-crippling carbon emissions by means of an unratified “climate change” treaty that not even the most die-hard Democratic Senator from the most deep-blue state would vote will probably wait until after the elections and go largely unnoticed until the pink slips start showing up during some other Democratic schmuck’s election cycle, at which point the press will helpfully provide explanations about how it’s all the Republican’s fault.
The president doesn’t seem the least bit embarrassed by the brazenly political motive for his ploy. In an otherwise hilariously disingenuous interview on “Meet the Press,” the president frankly acknowledged that after a widely-publicized invasion of the southern border by unaccompanied illegal minors who had heard of his executive order to delay deportations of unaccompanied illegal minors “the politics did shift mid-summer because of that problem.” He further explained that delaying another equally ill-advised executive order that would surely lure a few million more unskilled and non-English-speaking and ultimately dependent people to our cash-strapped and largely unemployed nation would thus be more “sustainable” if he inflicted it on the country after the voting was completed. He has to make the case for his policy, the president explained, and an election just isn’t the right time.
Some Republicans are already screaming about the coming amnesty, cand those who are inclined to listen to them will likely take heed. Some Latino activists are also screaming about the delay, and a few Hispanic voters might be disinclined to get out and vote. Blacks and low-wage workers and trade union members and other loyal Democratic constituencies harmed by the policy will gladly delay their outrage until the deal actually goes down, however, and a large number of people who dislike the president’s plan simply won’t hear about it.
The Democrats’ policies on illegal immigration will be a problem for them in the upcoming elections, as will Obamacare and the Russians and everything else they’ve put off, but the president has probably mitigated the damage by delaying his plans. How very frustrating.

— Bud Norman

Toasting the Tea Party With a Beer

Here’s wishing a happy fifth anniversary to the “Tea Party,” even if we’re not quite convinced of the date.
This whole “Tea Party” phenomenon has never been defined to our satisfaction, much less given a precise time of birth, yet activists associated with the movement and their antagonists in the media both marked Thursday as an anniversary because it came five years to the day after CNBC reporter Rick Santelli delivered a stirring on-air rant against the “stimulus package” and the rest of budget-busting spending that was going on in the heady early days of the Obama administration and his Democrat-dominated Congress. So far as we can tell the “Tea Party” stands steadfast against debilitating public debt, even more steadfastly against attempts to eliminate it with higher taxes, and holds an instinctive suspicion of big government even when it is on solid fiscal footing, which is a perfectly sensible philosophy that pre-dates the invention of the on-air ran by several centuries and has been an essential component of America’s politics since before the founding of the republic, but we suppose Thursday seemed as good a time any to take stock of the movement.
That such unfriendly media as The New York Times felt obliged to mark the more-or-less made-up anniversary with grudgingly respectful coverage indicates that the “Tea Party” packs a powerful political punch. The movement was responsible for the Republicans taking control of the House of Representatives in 2010 and holding it ever since, which has resulted in somewhat smaller deficits and thwarted further “stimulus packages” as well countless other attempts at Democratic mischief on issues ranging from gun control to immigration. Such modest accomplishments have not satisfied the “Tea Party” faithful, who are currently working to purge the party of House Speaker John Boehner and any other insufficiently rock-ribbed Republicans, but judging by much of the anniversary coverage they seem to have at least succeeded in forcing the party far enough to the right to infuriate the left. As moderate and weak as Boehner often is, and no matter how preferable a more conservative and confrontational leader might be, the “Tea Party” should take some solace in the certainty of how very much worse a Speaker Nancy Pelosi would have been. Boehner would have been worse without “Tea Party” pressure, too, and we happily predict it will continue to pull the party in a properly conservative direction.
It’s an unusually good wind that blows no ill, however, and for all its positive effects on America’s politics the “Tea Party” has caused occasional problems for conservatism. In the 2012 election the “Tea Party” was helpful in retaining the House majority and bolstering the totals of several Senate candidates, but also cost the party some winnable seats by choosing not-ready-for-prime-time candidates in Delaware and Connecticut and Nevada and Missouri and assorted House districts, and we suspect they were among the missing McCain voters who cost Mitt Romney a chance to defeat Barack Obama and thus make all things possible. The “Tea Party” infused the Republicans with a much needed spirit of amateurism in its very best sense of doing something for the love of it and not for financial gain, which of course is how a democracy is best achieved, but too often its newly-enthused candidates were simply amateurish in the worst sense of the word. The “Tea Party’s” aversion to professionals is understandable, even laudable, but as it purges the ranks it would do well to remember that a certain amount of professionalism will be needed against such a formidable pro outfit as the Democrats. A characteristically high-minded notion of the “Tea Party” that it’s better to lose to a radical leftist than vote for a less-than-pure conservative needs to be re-thought, too, as it is likely to result in a few more radical leftists surviving the upcoming mid-term elections that would have been otherwise necessary.
Also, the “Tea Party” is yet another one of those good ideas that have suffered bad marketing. That “Tea Party” moniker was always a bad choice, as the reference to the Revolutionary Era has little appeal to a younger generation that was taught the Howard Zinn version of history and only knows the Founding Fathers as a bunch of slave-holding 1-percenters in powdered wigs, and it also provided fodder for the late night comedians to make smutty “tea bagger” jokes and portray the movement as a bunch of crazy old white men in tri-corner hats. The brave defiance of the Boston Tea Party should remain an inspiration to any freedom-loving Americans, and the contemporary “Tea Party” isn’t nearly so white as the environmental movement or feminism or most another liberal cause, even if whiteness were an inherent flaw in a political philosophy, and the late night comics can’t possibly explain in their monologues why a $17 trillion dollar debt isn’t a looming catastrophe, but that hasn’t stopped the critics from making the term a pejorative to much of the population. Freedom is always a hard sell when the opposition is offering free stuff, and the “Tea Party” has often been clumsy in making the pitch.
On the whole, however, we think the “Tea Party” has had a salutary effect on America and is likely to do even more good between now and November’s voting. The movement has stopped the Democrats from doing some very stupid things, pulled the Republicans kicking and screaming in the right direction, and perhaps even learned some of the lessons that their more weak-willed but wised-up intra-party opponents mastered long ago. We also hope those less steadfast sorts of Republicans have learned that the Tea Party’s principles of fiscal sanity, limited government, and individual liberty must prevail before or after the looming disaster. If it doesn’t, the alternative is unthinkable.

— Bud Norman