A politician being cynical is not exactly a “man bites dog” story, as seven years of President Barack Obama has taught us. But when the president goes in front of a Hispanic audience and praises the Bush immigration law he personally helped scuttle, cynicism reaches new heights.
Obama was much more honest, though, about his particular interest in this segment of the population when he responded to boos from the audience to a reference to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. He paused and gave his trademark incantation, “Don’t boo…vote. They can’t hear the boos…they can hear your vote.”
The scene was the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Awards Gala, and the president as usual was energized. He pronounced every word ethnically (Spanish is the only European language Obama strives to enunciate as a native speaker—German, French, and Italian names can be Americanized) and sought right away to stoke grievances, which, according to the telling, can be remedied only if all leftist constituencies stick together.
In fact, the president began his speech with a poignant story of how the late California congressman Ed Roybal had been humiliated by a Los Angeles cop 75 years ago, on the day he proposed to his wife. Roybal, he said, had helped start the CHC because he knew that:
… we are stronger together than we can ever be alone. And that’s the same reason I ran for this office eight years ago—not because I believe in what I could do, but because I believe in what we could do together.
With that bit of self-serving grievance-mongering out of the way—in a country already reeling from unrest because of perceptions of police truculence—the president hopped on his favorite hobby horse: denigrating his predecessor’s policies abroad and domestically.
“By most measures we are better off now than we were seven years ago,” the president boasted, just hours before his administration announced it was pulling out of a program that trained five Syrian rebels for a cost of $500 million, capping a week of humiliating news from the Middle East.
He did find one policy from the George W. Bush administration he liked, the immigration reform bill of 2007. “Think how much better our economy would be if the rest of his party got the message,” Obama said in a plaintive tone.
Except that in June, 2007, the then-senator Obama voted for an amendment offered by North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan that, by emasculating the immigration bill’s guest-worker program, all but killed the bill.
Writing a week later, the late, great columnist Bob Novak observed, “The Dorgan amendment is a classic poison pill: designed to kill, not improve, the bill. Its passage makes resurrection of immigration reform all the more difficult.” Obama’s vote was as surprising as it was key—the amendment passed 49-48, and the bill died.
The unions hated the guest worker provision—they always do. But Obama was something else back then; not too many weeks earlier, on a chilly day in Springfield, Ill., the freshman senator had announced he was a candidate for president. Did he want this issue to fester forever, in order to continue sowing grievances ad infinitum?
Obama has been very clear to members of the group the Census Bureau identifies as “Hispanic.” America has been a nasty place to you, and you need liberals to change America. Often he has been brutally clear, as when he told Univision in 2010 that Hispanics must “punish our enemies” and “reward our friends who stand with us.”
For that, of course, he needs immigrants and their descendants to feel aggrieved, to cluster into groups, and to see themselves as “minorities,” not as past immigrants have seen themselves.
Everything he says and every policy he enacts has these goals in mind. But he shouldn’t be allowed to get away with praising a law he helped kill.
This article originally appeared at The Daily Signal.