Obama’s plan to extend legal status to illegal immigrants denounced by… Jonathan Chait?

posted at 7:21 pm on August 11, 2014 by Noah Rothman

New York Magazine’s liberal opinion writer Jonathan Chait is a smart and intellectually honest fellow, so it is a wonder why it took him this long to come around to noting that President Barack Obama is flirting with a potentially disastrous precedent by telegraphing his desire to extend legal status to millions of illegal immigrants.

In his most recent column, Chait opens by offering a perfunctory denunciation of the House Republicans who he says have invited Obama’s legally questionable moves by being reflexively unreasonable. That shibboleth out of the way, he proceeds to note that this condition does not provide the president with a license to exceed the constitutional bounds of executive authority.

Chait asserts that Obama is within his legal authority to provide millions of illegal residents, and that he personally supports Obama’s objectives with respect to immigration reform. “But the defenses of Obama’s methods seem weak and short-sighted,” he wrote.

To imagine how this method might be dangerous, you have to abstract it away from the specific end it advances and consider another administration using similar methods for policies liberals might not like. What if a Republican president announced that he would stop enforcing the payment of estate taxes? Or suspend enforcement of regulations on industrial pollution? Or laws on workplace discrimination against gays and lesbians?

“To think that the cycle will end here, and that a future president won’t claim more expansive and disturbing powers to selectively enforce the law, requires an optimism not borne out by history,” Chait concludes unassailably.

In other words, Chait is telling his fellow liberals, imagine if a Republican president at some point in the future cited the precedents Obama is setting today in order to pursue an agenda you don’t like. Chait is smart to put Obama’s shortsighted and autocratic style in terms his likeminded readers will understand, but it is nevertheless shocking that he thinks he must condescend in order to communicate this point.

The setting of bad precedents in the name of expediency which could someday backfire is a blindingly simple concept. Nevertheless, Chait’s fellow left-of-center opinion writers just “don’t understand.”

“I’ll be very surprised — and outraged! — if Obama announces a halt to all immigration enforcement,” Vox’s Matt Yglesias later wrote. He just does not necessarily believe that the move Obama is contemplating is necessarily the beginning of the end of the enforcement of all immigration law. White House Director of Progressive Media and Online Response Jesse Lee tweeted at Chait a New York Times article from 2008 which noted that the Bush administration refused to consent to an EPA recommendation to regulate carbon emissions. Translation: a future Republican president will feed his base in a similar fashion, so why should we be constrained today?

That is both a myopic and thoughtless analysis. Chait is correct; a defense of the rule of law means opposing even your ideological allies when they exceed their authority. Th NY Mag opinion writer has established that he is an honest broker who, while favoring liberal policy prescriptions, does not support the weakening of America’s republican system in order to see them enacted. In the process, he seems to also have outed those who disagree.


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“Progressives” in Brown Shirts are of the opinion that they, and only they, will rule.

GarandFan on August 11, 2014 at 7:28 PM

“I was all for it until I found out I’d have to pay for it.”

——— Mexifornia airhead on ObamaCare and J. Chait on the disease-bearing illegal invading hordes.

viking01 on August 11, 2014 at 7:28 PM

Matthew Yglesias has the IQ of a grapefruit.

aquaviva on August 11, 2014 at 7:32 PM

Chait asserts that Obama is within his legal authority to provide millions of illegal residents,

More accurate than you intended.

slickwillie2001 on August 11, 2014 at 7:32 PM

Let’s get real here, if Americans don’t wake up and vote out the losers in Nov, Amerikkka is lost.

Oh, Robin Williams is dead, probably of suicide.

Tard on August 11, 2014 at 7:40 PM

When exactly did an EPA recommendation have the force of law?

K. Hobbit on August 11, 2014 at 7:42 PM

Reminder to Socialists & Communists
(pound shoe on lectern) We will bury you.

Tom McDonald on August 11, 2014 at 7:42 PM

As I’ve said, the Lefties are starting to rue the day they ever heard the name Obama.

And we have 2 1/2 more years.

Welcome to the party, pal.

“I’ll be very surprised — and outraged! — if Obama announces a halt to all immigration enforcement”

I thought he already did.

formwiz on August 11, 2014 at 7:42 PM

Chait asserts that Obama is within his legal authority to provide millions of illegal residents, and that he personally supports Obama’s objectives with respect to immigration reform.

Provide them with what, Noah?

Do you EVER proofread?

Resist We Much on August 11, 2014 at 7:45 PM

Has Chait braced himself for an NSA wiretap, an IRS audit, a homeland security grope and a Hustler Holder discrimination lawsuit?

viking01 on August 11, 2014 at 7:46 PM

Chait asserts that Obama is within his legal authority to provide millions of illegal residents, and that he personally supports Obama’s objectives with respect to immigration reform.

Seriously, Noah, you’re killing me.

TDSE on August 11, 2014 at 7:49 PM

White House Director of Progressive Media and Online Response Jesse Lee tweeted at Chait a New York Times article from 2008 which noted that the Bush administration refused to consent to an EPA recommendation to regulate carbon emissions.

just the same as declaring 12 million illegals legal NOT

newrouter on August 11, 2014 at 7:50 PM

Support Dreamers = Support Lawlessness.

Bmore on August 11, 2014 at 7:52 PM

IOW, it’s not the principle – he’d be fine with having a king so long as it was always his kind of king.

crrr6 on August 11, 2014 at 7:54 PM

Executive amnesty would create massive and swift blowback it would not be a wise idea for Obama to do that but he may.

sorrowen on August 11, 2014 at 7:57 PM

Robin Williams Dies At 63: He Committed Suicide “Due To Asphyxia” After Rehab Stint

RIP

Bmore on August 11, 2014 at 7:57 PM

Voxsplanation of why HotGas shouldn’t give Matt Yglesias any more ink:


@mattyglesias
@Heminator I think fighting dishonesty with dishonesty is sometimes the right thing for advocates to do, yes. That’s an honest view.

blammm on August 11, 2014 at 8:01 PM

Matthew Yglesias has the IQ of a grapefruit.

aquaviva on August 11, 2014 at 7:32 PM


Let’s not be too hasty …

… I’ve known a LOT of grapefruit that could ‘splain things better than Matty

I just wanted to put my marker down on that …

;->

PolAgnostic on August 11, 2014 at 8:13 PM

♫Your Chaitin’ heart,
Will make you weep,
You’ll cry and cry,
And try to sleep,
But sleep won’t come,
The whole night through,
Your Chaitin heart, will tell on you…♫

viking01 on August 11, 2014 at 8:20 PM

Jonathan Chait is a smart and intellectually honest fellow

Hahahahahahahahahahhahaa

Hotair’s a comedy site now… thanks for the laugh. Congratulations on 2 months of trolling, Noah. You’re closing in on journ-O-lister David Weigel’s performance (3 months) at Wapo.

sauldalinsky on August 11, 2014 at 8:22 PM

All that Chait’s piece really reveals is to highlight there is no intellectual, ethical, or moral honesty when it comes to the progressive-fascists.

The gist of what he is saying is ‘The ends justifies the means’ – and that works for the other side as well as the progressive-fascist side.

His warning is that because the ‘right’ will use those same tactics (given he sees us as intellectually, morally, and ethically bankrupt as the progs actually are) to advance their agenda, the left needs to be careful about enabling them if the progressive-fascists fall out of power (as is likely in Congress this November).

It’s little more than projection…wrapped up to look like reality.

Athos on August 11, 2014 at 8:40 PM

Oh, Robin Williams is dead, probably of suicide.

Tard on August 11, 2014 at 7:40 PM

I actually wept when reading about the children being killed (beheaded and mutilated) in Iraq. Robin Williams, by his own hand, rates a “that’s sad” but no tears.

Fallon on August 11, 2014 at 8:46 PM

On CHAIT: You’re naive. This is a constant problem with so-called conservatives. They cling to one utterance from a leftist to broad-brush laudable motives onto his character! Here’s the more reasonable conclusion from Chait’s newfound Constitutionalism: CHAIT CAN SEE THAT VOTERS ARE HORRIFIED BY OBAMA’s immigration policies; he knows it will kill democrats chances in the midterms if Obama goes all-in the way he is rumored to be planning to do. Chiat is n’t a good guy; he’s simply telegraphing that Obama is about to throw Dems UNDER THE BUS.

mountainaires on August 12, 2014 at 5:51 AM