CEPEDA: Obama, the non-change agent

CHICAGO — What might an independent voter -- one who, like most of us, is weary of dirty political attacks and half-truths from both presidential campaigns -- take away from Politico White House beat reporter Glenn Thrush's new e-book, "Obama's Last Stand"?

As skeptics complain that they think Republican candidate Mitt Romney is a phony, a fair-minded critic could, after reading this book, reasonably wonder the same about President Obama.

This book, the latest to illustrate Obama's failed promise to bring about real change during his first term in office, is a natural follow-up to recent books detailing the dysfunction inside the White House, how scattered, uninspiring and underachieving Obama's presidency has been, and calling out the president for not living up to his promises on international diplomacy and human rights.

Thrush's addition to this canon of disappointment paints the president as a calculating politician who, like almost any other, will compromise the principles he campaigned on to get re-elected.

We read about how Obama's campaign staffers -- and some of his most ardent supporters -- have a marked deficiency of enthusiasm compared to the magical 2008 campaign. This is due in no small part to what each of the aforementioned books describes as a lack of vision for America's future, combined with the White House's dogged determination to find a narrative that will pinch hit in its absence.

Along the way we learn the back story about how Obama's high-minded opposition to political action committees disintegrated once Romney-boosting PACs started raking in the bucks, and how Vice President Joe Biden forced Obama's hand on supporting gay marriage even though he'd been dodging his own beliefs in order to avoid a backlash in key battleground states. No worries, though, Obama managed to spin his "evolution" in a way that actually energized the party base and under-30 voters for whom this issue was especially important.

He similarly spun a popularity lift from Latino voters on his deferred action order for unauthorized immigrant youth, even after years of presiding over unprecedented deportations and breaking his promise to broker substantive immigration reforms.

According to Thrush, once Obama saw Florida Sen. Marco Rubio -- at the time, a presumed vice presidential contender -- gaining in stature on the topic of a DREAM Act-like compromise, he took a chance on turning off white independents who feel immigrants represent a threat to their job security in order to court Hispanic voters.

The real sting -- for those Latinos who believe that it is the Democrats who respect and value them -- was that Obama had not initially wanted to turn to an executive order to offer the deferral action. Thrush says that Cecilia Munoz, the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, spent months quietly pressuring Senate Democrats to pass a bill exempting from deportation young adults currently residing here illegally, if they had been under 16 when their parents brought them here, but Senate Majority leader Harry Reid said the votes weren't there. Issue an executive order.

It took until late May for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to abruptly reverse her long-standing opposition to an executive order -- on constitutional grounds -- and clear the way for approximately 800,000 young immigrants to avoid deportation. But what happened next is what should give readers pause.

According to Thrush, when the Supreme Court ruled that parts of Arizona's reviled "papers, please" law violated the federal government's responsibility to regulate international borders but upheld the right of the state to ask for proof of legal residency, the administration and campaign staffers were not primarily, as Obama's official statement said, "concerned" about law enforcement's requirement to check the status of those merely suspected of being here illegally. Obama-ites were, in fact, elated.

"It was, in the eyes of top Democrats I interviewed, a win-win politically," Thrush writes. "Vindicating the administration's opposition to the law while keeping in place its stop-and-search centerpiece -- a massive GOP insult to legal, voting Latinos caught in the dragnet."

Yet another example of unpalatable Obama political expediency. Which brings me back to my take-away from this book: Don't let anyone convince you that you shouldn't dislike or distrust Romney, but don't put Obama on a pillar of trustworthiness, either.

Esther Cepeda's email address is estherjcepeda@washpost.com.


notblind 3 years, 1 month ago

There is nothing more absurd than using the word "principles" in reference to Barrack Obama. The guy is a climber, never stopping at any rung to achieve experience and competency. The climb is his driving force, not actually doing a creditable job at any level. History will not be kind to this president.


kevin 3 years, 1 month ago

No matter what words these articles consist of, the final word is fact: we have a failed President Obama administration. An administration that knows nothing about how to fix anything, much less a broken business. This whole 4 yrs has been of simply "no substance," something I have been saying since 2007. How do you expect someone to fix a bad situation when they have NO experience in doing anything but loud-mouthing politics, getting free money all your life, and when you surround yourself with just as incompetent people to run your Cabinet? I really don't care what attacks are tried against Romney, I, and so many others, will vote for him in Nov. We need real proven change and hope, not more talk, destruction, and showmanship.


Stu 3 years, 1 month ago

If you want to see the impact of our failed immigration policies, all we have to do is take a look at what is happening right here in Gwinnett. The other night I was driving home from work when I ran into a huge traffic jam. My first thought was that there must have been an awful accident. As I got closer, I saw what appeared to be a DOI checkpoint. OK, I thought, a little inconvenience is worth it for the worthy goal of safe roads. Now I find out, however, that this is part of a strategy of checkpoints for undocumented Hispanic immigrants. In order not to make the racial profiling too blatant, the police go through the motions of checking everyone, but they are really only interested in our Hispanic neighbors.

A few days later, I watched as five police cars staked out the neighborhood convenience store where Hispanic workers often stop on their way to work in a blatant attempt at intimidation.

Does anyone else find this a little bit creepy, not to mention a poor use of police time and taxpayers' money? While our Hispanic brothers and sisters take the biggest hit, we all suffer collateral damage to our freedoms and our consciences. Do we really want to live in a community that is systematically implementing a strategy of ethnic cleansing and that is looking more and more like a police state with every passing day?

Dr. King said that injustice anywhere diminishes us all. We live in a county that is perpetrating injustice against our neighbors on a massive scale. It is doing this in our names with our tax money. It's about time that we pulled our heads out of the sand and did a little soul-searching. Is this really what we stand for? Is this really the best we can do?


kevin 3 years, 1 month ago

This is the sort of thing we have become since we have a President and an administration that doesn't even enforce or follow the laws they swore to uphold. Didn't Obama put his hand on a "Bible" in 2008, or was it a comic book? Someone has enforce our laws. MLK would NOT approve of the job Obama is doing. MLK did not want us to live by the slogan, "divide and conquer."


R 3 years, 1 month ago

@ STU The INJUSTICE of requiring operators to have a valid driver license, vehicle insurance and by all means there’s no need to ensure alcohol free roads …

Because NOBODY ever drives the wrong way in our traffic right?

Gwinnett has been FAR TOO accommodating with its compassion for the chosen few who believe they can operate without even the basics.

Sorry those patrols are looking for LAWBREAKERS and last I checked, no nationality had cornered THAT market.


R 3 years, 1 month ago

text removed - double post error


Kat 3 years, 1 month ago

I'm sorry but I didn't see anywhere how you confirmed that this was a checkpoint for harrassing hispanics? Could it have been a pre Labor day checkpiont?? Five police cars staking out a convenience store... so you called the agency and they told you, yup by golly we're gonna get them undocumented hispanics no matter how much man power it takes. Puhleeze.


dav 3 years, 1 month ago

Thats 15 yards and a first down


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