President Obama didn’t visit the U.S.-Mexico border on his trip to Texas this week because he said a “photo-op” would not solve the immigration crisis.
This is undoubtedly true. It wouldn’t. But would a “photo-op” create jobs, fix bridges, clean-up the Gulf after the BP oil spill, rebuild the Jersey Shore after a hurricane, stabilize the Korean peninsula?
Whenever the president travels anywhere, whether he’s visiting the site of a tragedy, making a policy point, or guzzling a beer while shooting pool, photos will be taken. That’s inevitable. So to call a stop at the border a “photo-op” by definition means that every other time he’s visited somewhere was also a “photo-op.”
We’re not talking here about jaunts to local eateries, sports games or events with celebrities. A lot of Obama’s visits to places deal with very serious issues.
In September 2011, with the economy still struggling to recover, Obama gave a speech in front of the aging Brent Spence Bridge on the Ohio River to make the case for creating jobs and rebuilding our infrastructure.
In April 2010, the President went down to Louisiana to survey the damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
In May 2012, Obama took a quick trip over to Afghanistan on the one-year anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden. While there he signed a strategic pact on the U.S. role in Afghanistan after troops are gone.
In October 2012, Obama visited the devastated Jersey shore after Hurricane Sandy.
In June 2012, Obama went to Colorado to see the areas ravaged by wildfires.
In March 2012, Obama visited the tense border between North and South Korea.
The controversy over Obama’s decision not to visit the border is, like most things, largely political. The president said Wednesday he doesn’t think a trip there would add anything beyond the thorough briefings he’s received from administration officials who have visited the border.
It could also be bad optics for the president to tour shelters full of children he has vowed to deport as he struggles to balance that stance with pressure from immigration advocates seeking more humane laws.
Still, as our friend Aaron Blake over at The Fix blog points out, there are probably less downsides to the president doing “photo-ops” … otherwise known as visiting.