As was widely reported over the weekend, President Obama has decided to delay executive action on immigration until after the November midterm elections. On June 30, he announced in the Rose Garden that, given Republican congressional opposition to immigration reform, he would unilaterally change our policies by the end of the summer. Reportedly, he has decided to wait because he fears acting before the elections could cost Democrats control of the Senate. Indeed, an increasing number of Democrats running in November had reportedly urged the delay in going forward with the largely unpopular plan.

We find this development both fascinating and frightening. For one thing, a president acting unilaterally on such a major issue – because elected representatives find it hard to agree on a plan concerning something ostensibly within their purview – is somewhat fantastic in a democracy. For another, we see the president as exponentially compounding the problem by willfully depriving voters of the opportunity to even make their views known in the classic democratic way, by effectively voting against the plan.


This approach to governance really sets off the alarm bells when one contemplates the latest rough patch in relations between the Obama administration and Israel. Just in the past few weeks the State Department was loudly dismissive of Israel’s claim to have done what it could to avoid Palestinian civilian casualties, and Secretary of State Kerry created a firestorm when he urged Israel to agree to a cease-fire agreement that called for a discussion of Hamas’s grievances vis-à-vis Israel.

Criticizing Israel in this way, even before any investigation of the facts – “The blunt, unsparing language [is] among the toughest diplomats recall ever aimed at Israel,” wrote The New York Times’s Mark Landler – is a profound political statement, as was Mr. Kerry’s readiness to effectively reward Hamas for starting a war with Israel.

We therefore think it prudent to be concerned about how much pressure a largely unrestrained President Obama would exert on Israel in order to get it to go along with U.S. wishes. To be sure, as The Jewish Press reported last week, there are those who believe Mr. Obama will not pursue a resumption of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. But while that may be the feeling in some quarters right now, who’s to say what the president will do after the midterms?

Moreover, there will be several opportunities for U.S. involvement, including the indirect Cairo negotiations between Israel and Hamas, the fallout from the Palestinian Authority’s plans to bring the UN into its fight with Israel, the possible renewal of hostilities with Hamas, and the ISIS crisis coming ever closer to Israel.

We cannot forget Secretary Kerry’s obsessive and relentless focus on the Middle East peace process. He certainly didn’t spend so much time on it without the approval and support of the president, and it’s unlikely the administration is ready to give up on it so suddenly and completely with more than two years still left to the Obama presidency.

It would be a mistake to think the president’s unilateralist approach to achieving immigration reform is unique to that issue. He has made more than thirty executive action changes to provisions of the Affordable Care legislation, some of them designed to delay implementation until after the November elections. And other examples abound.

Then there’s the president’s mantra that he will not be deterred from achieving what is right for the public simply because Congress won’t cooperate. Perhaps that says it all. As veteran White House reporter Keith Koffler wrote more than year ago, “Hubris in a leader is an obnoxious thing, leading to imperiousness in governing. And it’s also a dangerous thing for a second-term president, often spelling trouble.”


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