In response to President Barack Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address, a few intemperate voices on the right are accusing the president of acting like a “king” or a “socialistic dictator.” But even Nat Hentoff, the longtime Village Voice writer and liberal civil libertarian, was calling Obama “the most destructive, dangerous president we’ve ever had” prior to Tuesday night’s speech. The angst is over the president’s vow that he will act on his own authority in pursuing his agenda when Congress refuses to cooperate. The president is now taking the counsel of kidney- punching Democratic Party consultant John Podesta, so we suspect his go-it-alone approach is meant mostly as political theater. If not, we will be confused, since Obama’s impressive resume includes teaching constitutional law at the University of Chicago. If the president imagines he wields unchecked power we can only conclude he accidentally picked up a copy of the Russian constitution, under which Vladimir Putin carries out his increasingly autocratic rule. We do, however, want Congress to act on the president’s call to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws. We especially hope more Republican members conclude that an uncompromising approach to immigration is impractical, economically unproductive and politically suicidal.
Congress and the president need to come to an agreement on more rational immigration statutes, because unless we turn the U.S. into a police state, the current laws are unenforceable. We know this is an election year and control of Congress hangs in the balance. There are, however, plenty of other issues Democrats and Republicans can bludgeon each other with from now until November.