For the better part of the last six years, President Obama has blamed and blamed and blamed everyone but himself.
For his first few years in office, he blamed his predecessor, George W. Bush, for all his woes. Sure, the economy did crater in 2008, but it does that from time to time. In fact, each of the last five presidents have had to weather a recession during their tenure. Still, all but this president took action rather than simply whining and blaming.
During the past two midterm elections and the 2012 presidential race, Mr. Obama blamed Congress for his inability to restart the economy. Even though the Republican-controlled House had passed dozens of jobs bills, the Democrat-controlled Senate — most likely at the direction of the president, or at least with his approval — did nothing, letting the bills die. That allowed Candidate Obama in 2012 to blame Republicans as obstructionists opposed to his every move.
But all that changed last Tuesday, when the president’s party got shellacked, thumped, hammered. Voters had no doubt whom to blame for the shoddy response to the threats from Ebola and the Islamic State, and they were no longer buying the blame-everyone-else talking points Mr. Obama was spouting.
Although the president and Democrats claim the real message of the election is that voters want the two parties to work together, nothing could be farther from the truth. The message voters sent to Democrats was simple: Your way isn’t working; we’re going to try the other guys.
All this makes what Mr. Obama said Sunday all the more bizarre. Despite repeated warnings this past week from Republicans, who will control both congressional chambers in just two months, the president said he will move forward before the end of the year with an executive order to weaken the nation’s immigration laws.
And once again, he blamed the Republican-run House for not acting on an immigration bill — a wholly unacceptable noncompromise passed by the Democratic-run Senate.
“I’d prefer and still prefer to see it done through Congress. But every day that I wait, we’re misallocating resources, we’re deporting people that shouldn’t be deported, we’re not deporting folks that are dangerous and need to be deported,” Mr. Obama said in an interview aired Sunday on “Face the Nation” on CBS.
Having just been crushed, with Republicans taking the widest majority they’ve had in the House since World War II, the president had the audacity to give House Speaker John A. Boehner an ultimatum: “John, I’m going to give you some time, but if you can’t get it done before the end of the year, I’m going to have to take the steps that I can to improve the system,” he said.
It’s as if Joe Frazier, flat on his back with Muhammad Ali standing above him, were to say, “I’ll give you one more chance, Ali.”
Sen. John Barrasso on Sunday gave a stunning insight into the White House meeting Mr. Obama had Friday with congressional leaders. In an interview on Fox News, the Wyoming Republican said Mr. Obama insisted his policies were on the ballot, but now that voters have spoken, he’s ignoring the message — and he didn’t care a whit what Republicans had to say.
“We went to the White House to say, ‘Mr. President, we want to work with you on the issues of jobs, the economy, affordable energy, health care.’ I was astonished [that] during that whole lunch, the president didn’t ask anything about that at all. He just was so focused on this executive amnesty issue that he ignored the idea of having a dialogue on ways we could actually change the direction of the country and move forward with regard to jobs and the economy,” Mr. Barrasso said.
In the end, Mr. Obama has a decision. Can he suck it up — as Bill Clinton did after Democrats lost control of Congress — and actually compromise on issues, or will he hew to his my-way-or-the-highway strategy that has caused much of the gridlock on Capitol Hill?
Either way, it’s time for the president to own up to one very real lesson from Nov. 4: He has only himself to blame. And the history books will write it that way one day, so he better get on the stick.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @josephcurl.