Obama dampens hopes for immigration reform this year

First what the President said:

In a rare appearance in the press cabin on Air Force One, President Barack Obama sounded skeptical that he would sign comprehensive immigration reform this year.

Obama told reporters Wednesday night that he wants Congress to press forward with immigration reform but said he’s unsure lawmakers have the “appetite” to get it done and acknowledged it would be difficult to do without Republican support.

“So it’s a matter of political will,” Obama said. “Now, look, we’ve gone through a very tough year, and I’ve been working Congress pretty hard. So I know there may not be an appetite immediately to dive into another controversial issue. There’s still work that has to be done on energy. Midterms are coming up.”

Here’s the problem. When the President starts talking publicly about not being able to get something done, then it won’t get done. You just don’t telegraph these kind of things unless you simply don’t want them to happen. It’s difficult to understand what else is motivating the President since a strategy to win never begins with a public talk about how it’s not clear if you can win.

Second problem, the President promised Latino voters that he would do immigration reform his first year in office. Now he’s suggesting it won’t happen in his second. And after the mid-term elections this fall, Democrats will likely have fewer seats, so if it can’t happen this year, don’t look to it happening next year.

It’s health care reform all over again. The President stakes out a promise, then begins to publicly cave at the beginning of the process rather than at the end. If he doesn’t have the votes, he should fight for the votes first – just like he did during the presidential primary. You didn’t see candidate Obama telling the press that he probably couldn’t win. He changed the dynamic, he fought, so that he could win. It’s the exact same thing with legislation. You count the votes, then you fight to get more votes. You don’t count the votes and then go public with your concerns that maybe you just can’t win. It’s not terribly smart, or presidential.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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