Bill Press the proudly self described liberal journalist has just written a critical book called “Buyers Remorse" about how Obama failed to fight – as in LBJ buttonholing and FDR cajoling -- for anything that he promised to do. One example was immigration reform.
Brian Lamb on C-SPAN interviewed Press SUNDAY FEB. 21, 2016 on Booknotes and showed a clip of Obama in his campaign speeches of 2008 supposedly promising to pass comprehensive immigration reform in his first year of office. In the clip posted on CSPAN during the Lamb-Press interview, at last I was able to note the exact words of Obama's so-called "promise to pass immigration reform". Here is what he said at a meeting of LaRaza in July 2008:
"it is time for a president who won't walk away from something as important as comprehensive reform and I will make it a top priority in my first year of office."
NOTE: he did not use the word "Immigration" though that's obviously what he meant I assume; but most particularly , he didn't promise to do anything. The verb he used was: "would not walk away from" comprehensive reform and that he "would make it a top priority" He didn't promise to “push” it, to “pass” it, to “fight” for it, “to make it a law”. He didn't even use his favorite verb "to address" it. He just said "it is time for a president not to walk away from it".
In July 2009, seven months into his first year as President, Obama gave a speech at American University that I attended where it was announced he would "address" Immigration Reform. Again I never heard him promise any action on what he would do. He just said he would address it. And that's all he did.
In fact the use of passive verbs is not unusual for Obama. He just never seems to be into action verbs. Address is actually a favorite verb of his and his administration.
Bill Press writes in an entire chapter on immigration that “for the next four years Obama did nothing on immigration”. Especially before and after losing the House in the midterm elections of 2010 he was very reluctant to even “address” it (especially after a desperate last-minute, over-stuffed stand-alone DREAMER Act failed in the last hours of the 111th Congress and Democratic dominance.) It wasn’t until June of 2012 when it looked like Obama might lose his reelection that he decided to act - especially with angry Latino activist and the head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus immigration initiatives Rep Luis Gutierrez – a fellow Illinoian -- threatened not to support him. Obama suddenly ordered an executive action to defer deportation of some 1.8 million DREAMERs – DACA (but not their parents). Weeks after losing the Senate to the Republicans in November 2014 he expanded DACA and initiated another deportation deferral program, DAPA for some 5 million illegal immigrants, parents of American citizens. Both of those executive actions have been put on hold and are awaiting a decision by the Supreme Court.
But that was it. For most of Obama’s six years in office, Bill Press points out that he concentrated almost solely on Obama care over other top issues like immigration reform and gun control. Once in a while, usually after a crisis, Obama would deem to “address” those and “promise to sign a bill” if he liked it when it came to his desk. But he never “promised to pass comprehensive immigration reform in his first year.” At least not in so many words.