Fifteen months into Barack Obama's presidency, two things are clear.
First, he hasn't mastered the art of presidential politics. And second, because of his flawed leadership, he's built a solid foundation for a one-term presidency.
At stake is not only the Democrats' control of Congress in November but also Obama's 2012 political future.
Obama's blundering has allowed "comprehensive immigration reform" a.k.a. amnesty to cling only barely to life while he's simultaneously getting his brains beaten in on health care.
During his battering, Obama has come unglued. Whining about not getting his way on widely unpopular Obamacare is unseemly, unbecoming and detrimental to the Democrats' fading November chances.
What's most hurtful to Obama is that the reservoir of good will that he amassed among previously gullible voters, his initial blind Democratic Party support and the Main Stream Media's adoration that began the moment he announced his presidential candidacy in February 2007 have all abruptly evaporated.
Obama's strategy on healthcare is unfathomable. He sets deadline after deadline after deadline, which are missed and then reset again.
So great is Obama's desperation that he's sunken to issuing two deadlines at once. The latest is March 18th before he leaves for Asia. If that doesn't happen, then the next cut off is Easter just before the Congressional recess.
Energy and Commerce Secretary Henry Waxman (D-CA) expressed the alienated Democrats' reaction in a response to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel: "He was certainly informed that we don't feel we want any deadlines assigned to us" (Dems to Emanuel: No Deadlines for Health Reform, by Jeffrey Young, The Hill's Blog Briefing, March 2, 2010)
On healthcare, Obama refuses to recognize the obvious: he just doesn't have the votes.
If Congress can't get behind health care, then an amnesty for illegal aliens is a further stretch of the imagination. I'd put the odds at somewhere between slim and none.
When pressed, some Democrats publicly embrace "comprehensive immigration reform". Privately, they want it to go away lest it come back to bite them in the midterm elections.
Yet despite the obvious lack of support for amnesty, Obama holds meetings with Senators Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham to delude his Hispanic lobby that someday soon, something good will come their way.
My opinion: in the end, no matter how many times Schumer and Graham get Obama's ear, there's no chance that amnesty legislation will reach the floor this year even if there were time to draft a Senate bill before the recess—which there isn't.
Why should Obama hold these behind-closed-doors meetings about amnesty? He knows that his every move is scrutinized by the demanding ethnic identity lobbyists, all foolishly demanding proof that their much-touted votes will be rewarded?
All Obama has to do to make his immigration problem fade into the background is to tell Graham and Schumer that all meetings on the subject are cancelled until further notice.
Sure, that would raise the ethnocrats' ire. But what's the difference? Obama is getting nothing but flack from them anyway.
For months now, the immigration enthusiasts have caterwauled that they are fed up with Obama's halfhearted promises and have issued the familiar threats to withhold their future votes.
Their next temper tantrum: the March 21st "March for America" where illegal aliens and their supporters will gather in Washington D.C. to demand loudly that Obama makes good on his "promise" to deliver comprehensive immigration reform.
History, beginning in 2003 with the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride, proves that these demonstrations are not only ineffective but also extremely useful for the cause of patriotic immigration reform.
That is, after Americans see on their nightly news programs, large groups of aliens and anarchists led by Luis Gutierrez demanding their "rights," the patriot's fax machines and phones stay busy for days.
Marches and demands are all annoyingly familiar territory.
Why Obama tolerates being pushed around and abused is a mystery given that he could so easily make it go away.
Again I ask: What's in it for Obama?
Here's a brief summary of how impossible the amnesty quest is.
Since Texas Rep. Solomon Ortiz introduced H.R. 4321 on December 15, 2009, only two additional cosponsors, both Democrats, have added their names: Robert Brady and Gary Ackerman.
Not only are there no Republican cosignatories—but House Leader Nancy Pelosi's name is conspicuously missing.
Only two new signatures in 90 days proves the House's lack of enthusiasm.
Hatch reportedly said that Schumer-Graham proposal is just an effort to "get the immigrant community off their backs. There's a lot of politics being played…" [Immigrant Advocates Turn Up Heat, by Jennifer Bendery and Jessica Brady, Roll Call, March 10, 2010]
[McCain, Collins, Graham quoted in Lindsey Graham to Obama, Time to Step it Up, by Glenn Thrush, Politico, March 10, 2010]
Even Graham's partner in crime, New York's Schumer, is grasping at straws by proposing a provision for a national biometric ID card that would be issued to all American workers including U.S. citizens. While it may satisfy some from anti-amnesty school, it is likely to make more enemies than friends. [Senators Push Plan to Require All US Citizens to Carry Worker ID Cards, by Zach Myers, Fox 59 News, March 10, 2010]
The ID card has already come under fire from two of comprehensive immigration reform's biggest supporters: the Chamber of Commerce which argues that the equipment necessary will be too costly for businesses and the ACLU which believes the card will infringe on an individual's privacy.
I'll make my typically optimistic and unfailingly accurate case that comprehensive immigration reform may be a long way away, if it ever happens.
Assume that the Democrats suffer huge November defeats and lose a Congressional majority. With the 112th Congress under Republican control and Obama reeling from his defeats, the possibility of an amnesty between now and 2012 becomes microscopic.
As for Obama, he deserves what he gets. Everyone knows that Washington's political culture is poisoned. But the point of being president is to make it responsive to you.
Obama's agenda wasn't forced on him. He picked it and ran with it.
During the year he's had to sell the American people on Obamacare and comprehensive immigration reform, he hasn't made his case. Now Obama will have to pay a steep political price.
Of course, the rest of us Americans are paying a steep price too. The Obama Administration continues with its "stealth amnesty", quietly ceasing to enforce the law against illegal immigration. And incredibly, although unemployment is at multi-year highs, no-one in the political Establishment is discussing an immigration moratorium.
But Obama can't get a full amnesty. And increasingly he looks like a one-term president.
That's a negative victory. But it's still a victory.
Joe Guzzardi [email him] is a California native who recently fled the state because of over-immigration, over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth rate stable. A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.