Here’s a quiz. Why did President Barack Obama take steps to normalize relations with Cuba? (a) To polish his legacy. (b) To improve the position of the Democratic Party for the 2016 election. (c) To weaken the Cuba lobby. (d) To show leadership. (e) None of the above.
If you answered anything other than (e), you’re wrong.
Here’s another one. Why did Obama initiate immigration reform on his own? (a) To punish the Republican Party, which repeatedly blocked legislation on that question. (b) To improve his sagging approval ratings. (c) To secure the Hispanic vote for the Democratic Party. (d) To polish his legacy. (e) None of the above.
Here again, (e) is the right answer.
On both Cuba and immigration, Obama isn’t taking action out of concern for politics or for his legacy. He’s taking action because these are things he actually cares about, and time for action will soon start to become scarce. In the 2008 campaign, he made it altogether clear that he wanted to start normalizing relations with Cuba. Immigration reform has long been among his highest priorities. No one should have doubted that, if Congress failed to act, he would do whatever he could to achieve that reform.