Why Obama Will Go Through with His Threat to Act Unilaterally

Center for Immigration Studies, November 20, 2014

After repudiation at the polls and a long series of political mistakes, only one outlet remains for President Obama’s “single-minded quest for ‘greatness'”–sweeping unilateral action on immigration.

That’s the assessment of Center for Immigration Studies Fellow Stanley Renshon, a professor of political science at the City University of New York and a certified psychoanalyst. In a new paper published by the Center, Renshon, an award-winning presidential biographer, notes that Obama promised to make “comprehensive immigration reform” a top priority his first year as president, but chose to focus on other issues once he took office.

Those other issues failed to cement a positive legacy; as Renshon notes, “In his single-minded quest for ‘greatness’ through big transformative legislation, Obama chose not to focus on the ailing American economy and sacrificed the bipartisan opportunities he might have had or created had he opted simply to be a good president instead of a great one.”

As a result, “the president’s aspirations for a place in history, of being ranked as a ‘great’ presidential figure, on a par with FDR and Lincoln” have been squandered.

“Facing a public largely disappointed in him and his leadership, and a declining cadre of fervent supporters,” Renshon continues, “the president is now turning to his one remaining legacy card: executive action on immigration.” In an address to the nation this evening, the president will attempt to build “a lasting legacy on the ashes of his repeated failures to listen to the public and govern from the center.”

Despite calls even from some Democrats to refrain from unilateral action, Renshon’s diagnosis is that Obama will press forward:

Predictable Republican opposition is not likely to dissuade this president from pursuing his dreams of glory, cementing his view of himself as the nation’s moral compass and avatar, helping to ensure a new large ethnic constituency for his party, and being associated with the president, Abraham Lincoln, with whom he has repeatedly identified himself.

The paper is here.

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