Obama’s immigration legacy will be the juxtaposition of his serial insistence that he was not a king or an emperor, and could not contravene the Constitution by granting a blanket amnesty, with his efforts to do just that when it was no longer politically inexpedient. I don’t think a president has ever quite so habitually warned the country of the dangers that would soon emanate from himself.

Illegal immigration is praised only by those who benefit directly from it, whether in the familial sense of inexpensive nannies, cooks, or gardeners; or in the corporate interest of cheap labor in the hospitality industries, agriculture, and construction; or in the political sense of new liberal constituents; or in the tribal sense of expanding the so-called La Raza base. But the vast majority of Americans accept that when federal law is ignored, chaos ensues.

The burdens of the attempt to grant federal exemption to millions of foreign nationals who have never followed U.S. immigration law inevitably fall on the middle-class taxpayer and the entry-level worker. We will also soon learn that over 11 million illegal aliens are not all Dream Actors. Rather, there is a huge minority of millions of illegal residents who have broken all sorts of U.S. laws, have not worked and are on public assistance, and have no record of sustained residence in the United States. When a guest chooses to break the laws of his host by entering his home illegally, that is usually the beginning, not the end, of illegality — a mindset and pattern of behavior that in many cases is not ended by simply erasing federal immigration law. The demand for immediate action for those who would qualify for Obama’s amnesties begs the question of whether there would be commensurately quick deportations of those who do not.

Take also global warming — for Secretary of State John Kerry, the world’s greatest challenge. Once the planet did not heat up in the last 18 years, and once the ice of the polar caps did not melt away, global warming begat climate change. The new nomenclature was a clever effort to link all occasional weather extremities to some underlying and fundamental climate disruption. Brilliant though the strategy was — the opposites of cold/hot, drought/deluges, and calm/storms could now all be used as proof of permanent climate change — global warming finally was hoist on its own petard: If it caused everything, then it caused nothing.