"This notion I can somehow just change the laws unilaterally is just not true. We are doing everything we can administratively, but fact of the matter is there are laws on the books that I have to enforce. And I think there's been great disservice done to the cause of getting the Dream Act passed and getting comprehensive immigration passed by perpetrating the notion that somehow, by myself, I can go and do these things. It's just not true."
-- Barack Obama, September 2011
President Obama is no longer president in the constitutional sense. He appears to have elevated himself to the role of emperor, deciding unilaterally what should be the law and what should not, bypassing Congress and placing himself in the role of Julius Caesar.
First it was the revelation that he has a "hit list," from which he alone decides who lives and who dies by drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen.
With last Friday's announcement that he intends, effectively, to grant amnesty to a category of illegal immigrants, according to criteria he has set -- their age, a spotless criminal record, a minimum level of education, and/or military service -- the president has technically, possibly deliberately and, it can be argued, illegally, violated his oath of office in which he swore to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States" so help him God. Whose help does the president seek when he acts as if he is God himself?
The Constitution empowers Congress, not the president, to make laws, but President Obama has bypassed that body to become a Congress of one and a law unto himself.
The president has announced his administration won't enforce a law passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton -- the Defense of Marriage Act -- because he believes it is unconstitutional. But he will craft his own immigration policy -- given that the Dream Act is still in limbo -- by immediately halting the deportation of and giving work permits to illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children. So not only is he president; Emperor Obama has usurped the power of Congress and the Supreme Court.
In an age of political pandering, this crass appeal for Hispanic votes has to rank near the top of anyone's list. While the Washington Post fixates on the 40th anniversary of the Watergate break-in and recalls Richard Nixon's disdain for the Constitution, there is silence about this president's similar disregard for that document's constraints on executive power.
Official unemployment for American citizens remains above 8 percent. Now, 800,000 noncitizens can work legally, in some cases for lower wages, thus robbing some citizens of what should be their priority place in the job line. Will those newly enfranchised noncitizens who can't find work get food stamps and welfare checks drawn on borrowed money from China? You know they will. That is part of the president's vote-buying contract.
The Obama re-election team apparently has calculated that every vote lost by an angry unemployed American citizen will be made up for with votes from Hispanics and result in a net plus for the president. That is a dangerous gamble, especially since it assumes Hispanics who are legal citizens, or legal residents, will applaud those who violated laws they had to obey when they came to America.
If a Republican president behaved in such a cavalier manner toward Congress and the Constitution, he would be impeached. Again, consider Nixon and Watergate.
The president's appeal, he maintains, is about "fairness" and other notions that have nothing to do with the law. There is a constitutional and legal way to regulate people who are "undocumented." It is through Congress, which made the laws illegal immigrants have violated.
The decree of a president who unilaterally and unconstitutionally decides which laws he will uphold (as with DOMA) and which he will create (Dream) -- that is how dictators rule.
Examiner Columnist Cal Thomas is nationally syndicated by Tribune Media. Readers may e-mail him at email@example.com