President Barack Obama is downplaying his central role in several dramatic policies, just as Democratic candidates are distancing themselves from him in the run-up to the November election.
The morning after Obama began an airpower war against targets in the war-torn but independent country of Syria, Obama gave a brief three-minute statement where he highlighted participation by Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar.
“America is proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with these nations on behalf of our common security…. This is not America’s fight alone,” Obama declared. “The overall effort will take time, there will be challenges ahead,” Obama said before walking away from the reporters’ shouted questions.
The distancing may be intended to minimize midterm blowback from slices of his constituency only weeks before a critical midterm election. The progressives in his base oppose a new war, his business donors oppose new curbs on companies and his middle-class supporters oppose the distribution of millions of work-permits for illegals.
Obama can also reverse his distancing, however, if the public wants to give him credit.
Obama didn’t appear in public to announce the launch of his own war in Syria and Iraq, late Sept. 22. Instead, his deputies told reporters that the campaign was initiated by his regional commander.
“The decision to conduct these strikes was made earlier today by the U.S. Central Command commander under authorization granted him by the commander in chief,” said a Pentagon statement.
Obama’s effort to minimize his role is problematic, partly because many strategists are unclear about how his Syrian air-war will help long-term U.S. goals.
Obama also sought to minimize his role in his campaign-trail criticism of companies for their effort to reduce their federal tax bills.
He released a statement shortly after Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced Sept. 22 he would change tax rules and definitions to constrict so-called tax-saving “inversions.”
“Secretary Lew briefed me today on the first steps the Treasury Department is taking to discourage companies from taking advantage of corporate inversions — moving their tax residence overseas on paper to avoid paying their fair share in taxes here at home,” he said in a Monday evening statement. “I’m glad that Secretary Lew is exploring additional actions to help reverse this trend,” the president added.
That statement came after Lew had briefed the press at 5:45 p.m. to announce the rule changes.
Obama is also distancing himself from his plan to print work permits for millions of illegal immigrants.
Early in the evening of Sept. 22, before the bombs landed in Syria, Obama attended a closed-door Hispanic Heritage Month event at Vice President Joe Biden’s official residence.
The visit was partly intended to mend fences with the ethnic lobbyists he has disappointed since August. In May, Obama promised action by the end of summer, but has since postponed any action on immigration until the end of the year. He also repeatedly said that the immigration changes are being drafted by Jeh Johnson, his secretary of Homeland Security.
Biden used the event to promise major actions by Obama before the end of the year, according to attendees. Obama did not make a public statement.
White House deputies say Obama will implement the plan — whose details are being kept secret — by the end of the year.
White House officials have repeatedly suggested that he will give residency permits and work permits to more than four million illegals.
That action would ensure that the supply of new foreign job applicants in 2015 — consisting of several million illegals, one million new illegal immigrants plus 700,000 guest workers — would far exceed the new supply of roughly 1.3 million native-born non-college Americans.
Obama’s immigration policies are very unpopular among swing-voters, Democrats, working Americans and among many Hispanics. However, they’re backed by many university graduates, business executives and business donors.
That unpopularity has prompted many Democratic candidates to keep their distance from him. Instead of making joint appearances, Obama is trying to raise record amounts of donations from wealthy progressives. On Tuesday, for example, he’s attending another fundraiser in New York after his meetings at the United Nations.