If Republicans thought President Obama would be cowed by a run of Supreme Court defeats, the president sent a strong message Monday: Think again. Obama was more defiant than despondent, more challenging than cowed, more confrontational than conciliatory when he stood before the cameras twice to announce changes involving immigration and veterans' health care.
The president made no reference to last Thursday's unanimous rebuke by the justices, who ruled that he had exceeded his constitutional authority when he made several recess appointments. Nor did he mention Monday's defeat when the Court, by a 5-4 margin, thwarted his attempts to force companies to provide contraceptive health care to employees. The failure to acknowledge his twin defeats was not accidental. He was sending an unmistakable signal to both Republican foes and Democratic allies that he is not willing to surrender the initiative.
If anything, he seemed energized by his long-awaited attempt to get himself off the defensive and be seen as actively trying to take charge, even if belatedly and even if he has to share the blame for not moving more aggressively much earlier both to force immigration reform and to demand better oversight of the Veterans Affairs Department. Less than a week after House Speaker John Boehner informed him that no immigration measure will move through the House this year, the president decided, as he said Monday, that "America cannot wait forever for them to act."