A president, a turkey pardon, and talk of amnesty?
For the record, I like the "turkey pardon" tradition. It's a fun moment in a much too darn serious town.
This year, President Obama tried to make a connection between the "turkey pardon" and the executive order that he signed. It went like this:
"I know some will call this amnesty," Obama said, "but don't worry, there's plenty of turkey to go around."
Frankly, it was not funny.
First, President Obama has the authority to pardon. It's in black and white in the U.S. Constitution. Every president has done it going back to President Washington. It's not an issue, unless President Clinton pardons a man like Marc Rich and people scream a little. The other controversial pardon was the Nixon pardon from 1974 but most historians credit President Ford for making the right call after Watergate.
Second, the executive order to stop deportations is not a presidential power. It is an overreach, even if some of us agree that "DREAMers," or others who've worked here for many years, should be provided a path to legalization after meeting certain conditions.
The difference is rather clear. He has the authority to pardon – even a turkey. He does not have the authority to change or make law, as he told us for several years when he addressed Hispanic audiences on immigration.
Finally, why would he use a "turkey pardon" moment to take a shot at his critics?
The answer is that President Obama is very thin-skinned and does not take criticism well. He seems unable to understand that some people have honest differences of opinion.
The other answer is that he is angry and bitter that the next two years will not be any fun. After all, even Dana Milbank now writes that "Obama is turning into Bush." It won't be any fun sending ground troops back to Iraq or watching Obamacare implode.