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Obama’s Bait and Switch

President Obama is in Texas today to give an immigration speech in El Paso before raising money in Austin for his reelection.

According to a White House statement:

In recent weeks the President has met with and heard from leaders and stakeholders from diverse sectors including faith, business, law enforcement officials, current and former elected officials and others about the need to fix the broken immigration system, and why it matters to the American economy and will allow us to better use our national security and law enforcement resources. The President wants to have a civil and constructive debate on this issue.

There he goes again, reassuring us that he, the president, wants to have a “civil and constructive debate” on yet another issue. Of course he does. Obama would have us believe he is always and forever in search of a civil and constructive debate on the issues.

Except when he’s not.

For example, in his George Washington University budget speech a few weeks ago, Obama’s civility took the form of accusing Republicans of wanting the elderly, autistic children, and Down Syndrome children to fend for themselves. It was a presidential speech that was uncommonly ugly and dishonest, even by today’s standards. On that occasion civility was set aside—but for a perfectly justified reason, of course. The president needed to score cheap partisan points.

And just last week Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, testified before Congress and claimed that the GOP’s Medicare reform would cause people with cancer to “die sooner.” The Washington Post, in fact-checking this claim, put it bluntly: “She should be ashamed.”

Secretary Sebelius should be ashamed—and so should her boss, the president. Yet he seems quite untroubled by it all. Once again a “civil and constructive debate” on the issues is getting in the way of Obama’s political ambitions. Which is the more likely to prevail when the two are in conflict? And which is the more likely to be tossed aside like used tissue? Obama is set in his ways.

The game that the president is playing is almost comical at this point. Portraying himself as the American Socrates—the only responsible and thoughtful adult in a country full of rancorous children—Obama incessantly lectures us about the quality of our public discourse, even as he, his administration and political aides, and members of his own party routinely employ arguments that are dishonest and language that is sulfurous.

The president believes he can get away with this bait-and-switch. It is the job of the opposition party to make sure he doesn’t.


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