The National Journal asks, “Why Isn’t Obama Going to the Border?” At first it seems like a bit of snarkiness. President Obama is not going to the border because it is a total mess and he’s ultimately responsible, of course. But, on second thought, the question is intriguing.
What other president has refused to see for himself a high-profile humanitarian disaster? George W. Bush post-Katrina went to New Orleans (after being slammed for viewing it from a plane window). Obama went to Aurora, Colo., and Newton, Conn., after shootings. He goes to sites of tornadoes, storms, mudslides and fires. It’s well and good, I suppose, to swoop down for a photo op, but when the buck supposedly stops with him, he is nowhere to be found.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), a potential 2016 candidate, is making the most of it. Politico reports:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry and President Barack Obama will meet in Texas on Wednesday to discuss the crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border, a governor’s spokeswoman said Tuesday.
“Gov. Perry is pleased that President Obama has accepted his invitation to discuss the humanitarian and national security crises along our southern border, and he looks forward to meeting with the president tomorrow,” spokeswoman Lucy Nashed wrote in an email to POLITICO. Nashed said that the meeting will be in Dallas.
No, Dallas is nowhere near the border (over 500 miles), so the visit is nevertheless a perfect metaphor for Obama’s crisis-management: Give speeches, blame others, view everything through a partisan lens and only when hounded try to address the substance of the problem. Perry should reissue his call for the president to view the border and make clear that the president’s preference for unilateral action and speechifying is both insufficient to solve the current crisis and a contributing factor to it. Perhaps he could ask the president to pledge he’ll go to Congress from now on rather than governing by executive whim.
Perry will have the country’s attention for a short while. He should use it to explain how he and other governors must deal with the federal government’s mess and to make the point that governors have to play the hand they are dealt. He can’t ride around the state hollering at the legislature while the disaster worsens.
The president — be it the border, the Veterans Affairs scandal (about which he didn’t comment for weeks) or any other scandal, or the attack in Benghazi, Libya — regularly reveals how uncomfortable he is with, well, with leadership. In a crisis, leaders seize the moment, problem-solve, remain in the information loop and seek out more data. Obama, on the other hand, never met a crisis he didn’t consider a PR emergency amenable to spinning. His aides (as in the Internal Revenue Service scandal) seem to think their primary responsibility is to keep him uninformed so he can’t be blamed.
Maybe that is why he is assembling a political war room for the fall Obamacare health-care premium hikes. Address the underlying policy defects and acknowledge his legislation did not provide affordable coverage to millions of Americans, as promised? Oh, puleez. That’s all the responsibility of the officials in charge — of which Obama is plainly not one. A less capable chief executive this country has never seen.