Newt Gingrich is accusing President Obama of cowardice for delaying planned executive action on immigration reform, the same proposed executive action Gingrich previously deemed “unconstitutional” and indicative of a “Venezuelan-style-anything-I-want-is-legal-presidency.”
On September 6, the White House confirmed that President Obama will delay taking executive action on immigration reform until after the 2014 midterm elections. First discussed this summer, the executive order will reportedly provide temporary relief for millions of law-abiding undocumented immigrants.
Crossfire host Newt Gingrich blasted Obama's decision to delay on CNN's State of the Union the next day. According to Gingrich, the president is “cowardly” for delaying the executive action, compared to his previously “decisive” rhetoric on an immigration order (emphasis added):
GINGRICH: First of all, I think he was pretty honest today in saying, in an interview, that the flood of children coming in this summer changed all the equations and all the emotions. It suddenly became much harder to do something. And in the red states where he has Democrats who are in trouble in the Senate, virtually all of them were saying, 'please, don't do this.' But I think there's a bigger narrative here.
This is one more example of Obama being incapable of figuring out how to do whatever he promises he's going to do. And you go to Ukraine, you go to Iraq, you go to Estonia this week, you go to all sorts of things and you get the Maureen Dowd kind of columns, that are so scathing that it's a little bit hard to believe she'd write it about a Democrat. This is just going to pile on more because his language in the summer was so decisive, and his behavior now is so cowardly, that the gap between those two is just astonishing.
Yet Gingrich previously charged that this same executive action -- which Obama is now “cowardly” for not taking -- amounted to an “unconstitutional executive order.”
On the August 3 edition of State of the Union, Gingrich claimed that “the president, I suspect, is preparing an unconstitutional executive order ... that legalizes five million people.” When another panelist accused him of “overstating, again, the extent to which the president is operating outside the boundaries of the constitution,” Gingrich replied, “You're kidding.”
Gingrich has repeatedly urged Republicans to make Obama's pending executive action on immigration a top campaign issue, portraying it as a “fiat” and “Venezuelan-style” overreach of executive power. On Meet The Press on August 10, he advised:
GINGRICH: If [Obama] comes in around Labor Day with some grand scheme by executive order, the right thing for the Republicans to do is pass a bill saying it's wrong in the House, taunt the Senate Democrats who are up for reelection to get the bill through the Senate, and say to American people you want to stick with the Venezuelan-style-anything-I-want-is-legal-presidency, or do you want go back to the constitution, these are your two parties in November, and then in January the Republican Senate and Republican House just cuts off the money.
And appearing on The Laura Ingraham Show in May, Gingrich argued that Republicans' message in the 2014 election should be, “the President of the United states should allow millions and millions of people -- as many as he wants -- to come into the United States and to be legal residents by fiat of his pen, vote Democrat.”
While Gingrich turns from attacking Obama as ruling “by fiat” to “cowardly” for delaying action, experts have confirmed the president has broad authority to issue such executive orders on immigration.