November 22, 2014

Trustiness is Next to Truthiness

I really did not want President Obama to act unilaterally on immigration. 

Unlike 99.999% of the people who are commenting on the constitutionality of his action, I freely admit I don't know if he had the authority to do it; the Constitution (and the Bible, by the way) can be interpreted to mean what you want it to. That's one thing that 99.999% of us do know to be true. 

The argument that a boatload of Presidents before him have taken some kind of executive action on immigration doesn't really matter all that much to me, because (as noted above) I cannot speak with any authority on the legality or constitutionality of those actions either, and because, as they say, two wrongs don't make a right. And two rights don't necessarily make a right either, because of that whole interpretation thing.
Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone
Even though I think we need some kind of action on immigration, and pretty much everyone admits that, even the staunchest, most hate-spewing, build-a-giant-fence-around-the-country right-winger and the most open-armed-give-them-all-citizenship-welfare-and-healthcare-on-day-one left-winger, I do not believe this was the right way to go about it. Why?  

Because within the current Congress, or with the 'mandated by the majority of the 37% of voters who actually gave a damn and bothered to show up on November 4th' Congress that will start in January, there seem to be very few folks on either side of the aisle who can keep the gang from going any further off the rails because Obama 'stuck his finger in their eye' or because he 'played with matches' and so has to get burned, or because he 'poisoned the well' on immigration reform (and tax reform, and climate change, and jobs and trade and the economy) for the rest of his presidency, or because he won't be able to 'build trust' with the new Congress. 
Every two years the American politics industry fills the airwaves with the most virulent, scurrilous, wall-to-wall character assassination of nearly every political practitioner in the country - and then declares itself puzzled that America has lost trust in its politicians. ~Charles Krauthammer
He is not going to be able to build trust with the new Congress, in part because they neither seek nor want his trust, but mostly because:
  • The leadership of the new Congress is the same as the old: Crying John Boehner is still somewhat in charge of the House Republicans, and Grumpy Old Mitch McConnell is still somewhat in charge of his cadre in the Senate. Nancy Pelosi is still in charge of her troops, and Harry Reid of his. And we all know, nothing says "trust me now" like a long history of not trusting me yesterday.  
  • Because the first thing Boehner wants to do in his chamber is (drum roll please) vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act! He's already led his troops to do this some 50 times, at a cost of about $1.5 million each time he does it. Yep. $75,000,000 of your tax dollars trustfully put to work. 
  • And oh, by the way, they just sued Obama over the ACA, something they have long planned as a trust-builder with the President. 
  • Because this Congress just released its seventh report on Benghazi(or as they say on Fox News, BENGHAZI!) which found that there was no failure of the CIA and the military. But wait -- there's still one more investigation to go, she said trustingly.
  • Because over the years, there have been bipartisan efforts galore - Simpson-Bowles on a host of financial reforms, and the Gang of Eight, who did immigration reform - which have been ignored by Congress and the President with equal relish. Gee, that trust stuff is tasty, isn't it?
Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words.Trust movement.~Alfred Adler
Had President Obama come out immediately after the midterm election and moved towards action, had he embarked on a campaign of his own, about his agenda for the next two years (including comprehensive immigration reform), I would have heartily approved.
Our distrust is very expensive.~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Had President Obama stood in the White House this past Thursday and asked Crying John to set aside his first plan of action for the new Congress (voting to repeal the ACA yet again) and instead make holding a vote on the the Senate's bipartisan immigration bill the priority, I would have supported him.  

Had President Obama used his personal Twitter feed, and the White House Facebook page, and all of the other communication vehicles at his disposal to address the lack of action on the part of Congress, and begged them to do the job they were elected to do - to serve the American people -- he would have me in his corner. 
We're all born brave, trusting, and greedy, and most of us remain greedy.~Mignon McLaughlin
At this point, I guess we have to hold out hope that there are enough people in Congress who are greedy enough, who want to be successful, who want to have a positive legacy, who want to be the ones to actually accomplish immigration reform, and that they can exude enough 'trustiness' to convince their colleagues to go along. 
Government is an unnecessary evil. Human beings, when accustomed to taking responsibility for their own behavior, can cooperate on a basis of mutual trust and helpfulness. ~Fred Woodworth