The border crisis isn’t Obama’s Katrina – it’s worse

posted at 3:31 pm on July 13, 2014 by Noah Rothman

Many have parsed what President Barack Obama’s critics mean when they charge that the handling of the crisis on America’s southern border is “Obama’s Katrina.”

The president’s supporters are quick to note that this comparison is misleading and unfair. Hurricane Katrina drowned an entire urban center. American citizens died waiting for federal and state aid. Thousands of Americans, mostly of meager means, were trapped in a dying city. Some of them did not make it out alive waiting for their countrymen to save them. In that sobering moment, much of the promise of the United States was betrayed.

It is impossible to know how many children crossing the American border have died as a result of their trek across forsaken deserts. At least one 15-year-old Guatemalan boy lost his life as the result of dehydration, but there has not been a death toll comparable to Katrina. In terms of body count, these two crises are not comparable.

But this is all Obama’s supporters have going for them. The president’s approach to this crisis is distinct from George W. Bush’s approach to Katrina insofar as the current president is comfortable campaigning on, rather than addressing, an ongoing disaster.

Real Clear Politics columnist Carl Cannon published a dispassionate column on Sunday comparing Bush’s reaction to Katrina, and the garment-rending, hyperbolic outrage his response to that crisis inspired among his liberal opponents, and Obama’s response to the nightmare on the border. Cannon found that there has been little seriousness in Obama’s approach to this crisis whereas Bush’s approach to Katrina, while imperfect, was at least empirically measurable.

Cannon recalled how Bush’s critics erupted in indignation when the White House published a photograph of the president surveying the devastation from Air Force One. Entertainers like Michael Moore and Kanye West accused the president of racism and callousness. Bush’s Democratic adversaries in Congress, including then Senator Obama, were no kinder.

In hindsight, little of this seems fair. What Bush saw as he flew over the battered region shocked him. The next day, he publicly pledged $10.5 billion in federal aid, enlisted his father and Bill Clinton to help in recovery efforts, and spoke about the tragedy from the Rose Garden. The next day, he headed down there, where he literally put his arms around shell-shocked survivors, many of them black people. Bush returned again in mid-September and made a nationally televised address from Jackson Square in New Orleans.

When he ran for president, then-Sen. Barack Obama seemed to forget all that. All he cared to recall was the flyover, which is more than he’s done on the Texas border this year.

The president has used this crisis to push for a $4 billion supplemental funding request, but has stipulated on several occasions that these funds had to be passed by Congress before there would be any emergency response to the flood of unaccompanied children crossing the border. That does not even resemble a “response” to an acute crisis. In all past disasters of this scale, the response comes first and without hesitation. The petty bickering over how to pay for it is a secondary concern.

Obama’s galling and politicized response to the border crisis does not stop there.

When he’s not berating Congress for not passing his ballooning supplemental request fast enough, Obama harangues Republicans in the House for not passing the Senate’s immigration reform bill – a legacy initiative Obama promised would be one of his accomplishments in his first year in office.

He has ignored Democratic lawmakers who demanded the president see the border for himself, preferring instead to maintain his distance from the crisis so as not to be too closely associated with it.

The president and his administration are happy to blame the current crisis on a Bush-era anti-human trafficking law which treats children coming into the country from non-contiguous nations differently from Mexican immigrants, but they have not demonstrated that they think changing this law to address the calamity it has supposedly precipitated should be a congressional priority.

All this paints a picture of a commander-in-chief who views this “humanitarian crisis,” as Obama called it, to be more of a political problem than a genuine source of apprehension and fear for America’s border state residents, border enforcement agents, and the immigrant children trafficked into the United States.

Obama’s adversaries and allies agree that, quite unlike Bush, the president sees this crisis as a political opportunity.

“There is every sign he let the crisis on the border build to put heat on Republicans and make them pass his idea of good immigration reform,” The Wall Street Journal‘s Peggy Noonan submitted. “It would be “comprehensive,” meaning huge, impenetrable and probably full of mischief. His base wants it. It would no doubt benefit the Democratic Party in the long term.”

Francis Wilkinson, a liberal Bloomberg View columnist, concurred.

“I think he wants this to be a big problem,” Wilkinson told MSNBC’s hosts on Thursday. “I think he wants this to be such big problem right now that Congress has to deal with it, and that the media’s focused on it, and that the American public is focused on it.”

Bush’s approach to Katrina was criticized by his allies and opponents alike, and some of that criticism was deserved, but he never treated the situation in New Orleans as though it was a political opportunity. That is a grotesque abuse of the public trust, but this seems to be the calculation the president and his advisors made.

“Although Obama probably doesn’t have to go to the border personally to be an effective leader, he may owe George W. Bush an apology,” Cannon concluded.

Like Katrina, Obama’s successors will likely study his response to the situation on the border as a case study in how not to address a crisis. The border disaster is, however, not Obama’s Katrina. The president’s refusal to perform the responsibilities associated with his role as the nation’s chief executive makes this episode far worse.

An earlier version of this post claimed the Guatemalan boy who died of dehydration while crossing the border was 11-years-old.


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The right/anti-immigration crowd has very quite suddenly discovered concern for that human costs of the border and immigration issue. It’s remarkable that they’ve never before made that a significant part of their vociferous anti-immigration campaigns and advocacy.

Please click the link. The thing is, this is how you imagine conservatives to be, despite your regular interaction here: meaning that you are impervious to enlightenment.

It seems ‘They’re taking our jobs!!’ is taking a short break.
verbaluce on July 14, 2014 at 11:34 AM

And what’s there to like about illegal aliens taking Americans’ jobs?

Akzed on July 14, 2014 at 1:53 PM

rogerb on July 14, 2014 at 12:36 PM

I know you worked hard on that,

 
Not really. As I’m sure you’ve discovered with many, many other things in life, what is difficult for you isn’t necessarily difficult. It’s just you.
 

but….what?

 
Do we have two verbaluces posting again? Did you not realize you’d posted regarding hypocrisy and political opportunism?
 

One of these days you’re going hit me back on topic.
I just know it.
(Save this – and use it someday out of context in an odd and nonsensical way.)

verbaluce on July 14, 2014 at 12:59 PM

 
Nicely done, verbaluce. I doubt anyone expected followed-up and doubled-down hypocrisy. You mean
 

rogerb on January 15, 2014 at 10:18 AM

 
Do you oppose responsible use and handling of firearms…
 
verbaluce on January 15, 2014 at 11:00 AM

 

Your position is that a drunk should be careful while driving (illegally) with a blood alcohol content above the limit, right?
 
Yes or no, verbaluce?

 
If you’re consistent in your beliefs, it has to be yes.
 
rogerb on January 15, 2014 at 6:15 PM
 
http://hotair.com/archives/2014/01/15/stop-me-if-you-heard-this-one-three-guys-try-to-rob-an-old-man-who-has-a-357/comment-page-4/#comment-7643756

 
like the
 

I’d welcome any legal maneuver that would deny (military base shooter Nidal Hasan) the soapbox he’s been waiting for.
 
verbaluce on August 23, 2013 at 4:31 PM

 
Just to we’re all clear, and as you’ve noted, you’re more interested in limiting a single public statement by one of millions of Jihadists and Jihadist sympathizers, and a single statement from the same Jihadist that has already made quite the public statement by successfully murdering 13 American troops and wounding 30 others on U.S. soil, rather than honoring the soldiers and their families with appropriate medals and personnel benefits through use of your preferred “workplace violence” terminology?
 
Am I understanding your consistency correctly?
 
rogerb on August 23, 2013 at 5:19 PM
 
http://hotair.com/archives/2013/08/23/guilty-on-all-counts-nidal-hasan-faces-death-for-fort-hood-shootings/comment-page-2/#comment-7271609

 
political opportunism
 

So you don’t want provide the readers with the estimated number of crimes you’re going to prevent with a no-exceptions civilian ban on full auto weapons, verbaluce?
 
rogerb on December 22, 2012 at 4:42 AM
 
http://hotair.com/archives/2012/12/21/the-new-horizon-of-gun-control-part-4-wolves-at-the-door/comment-page-2/#comment-6592136

 
ones I linked above, and which all obviously corresponded
 

People should have been made aware (hospitals were burning aborted babies for energy)…and it they weren’t.
Or even misled, with the ‘cremated’ line…
 
verbaluce on March 24, 2014 at 2:04 PM

 
Been made aware of what?
 
Should they also be made aware of how they dispose of skin tags or ingrown toenails?
 
What’s different?
 
Go on. Tell us.
 
rogerb on March 24, 2014 at 2:13 PM
 
http://hotair.com/archives/2014/03/25/open-thread-scotus-and-hobby-lobbyconestoga/comment-page-4/#comment-7865400

 
with sudden conferences?
 
Or did you not realize your post’s topic on this thread was hypocrisy and political opportunism?
 
Or is ghoooOOOooost verbaluce in your account again?

rogerb on July 14, 2014 at 1:54 PM

Leftists are for slave labor, child abuse, human smuggling and spreading diseases, in addition to hating on the taxpayers and the middle/lower legal classes of the USA. The DIABLOs in DC enable the.

Cantorize all in Nov.

Schadenfreude on July 14, 2014 at 1:55 PM

^^^

The right/anti-immigration crowd has very quite suddenly discovered concern for that human costs of the border and immigration issue. It’s remarkable that they’ve never before made that a significant part of their vociferous anti-immigration campaigns and advocacy. verbaluce on July 14, 2014 at 11:34 AM

Akzed on July 14, 2014 at 1:56 PM

Land-flukeing pig

Blacks and other minorities, he really hates you.

Schadenfreude on July 14, 2014 at 2:09 PM

“Nothing”

Schadenfreude on July 14, 2014 at 2:27 PM

Just for verbie

Schadenfreude on July 14, 2014 at 2:31 PM

This thread is now featured on Real Clear Politics.

Schadenfreude on July 14, 2014 at 2:44 PM

This thread is now featured on Real Clear Politics.

Schadenfreude on July 14, 2014 at 2:44 PM

Dang! Noah again?!?! He must really suck.

Bmore on July 14, 2014 at 2:54 PM

This thread is now featured on Real Clear Politics.
 
Schadenfreude on July 14, 2014 at 2:44 PM

 
Poor verbaluce.

rogerb on July 14, 2014 at 2:56 PM

Poor verbaluce.

rogerb on July 14, 2014 at 2:56 PM

Poor verbaluce! Now I have to come up with something really smart to say………..

Bmore on July 14, 2014 at 2:57 PM

Maybe I should just quote something rogerb said. ; )

Bmore on July 14, 2014 at 2:59 PM

Grijalva: Democrats Getting Worried About Obama’s Executive Orders on Immigration

House Democrats are starting to worry that the crisis of unaccompanied children coming to the border will turn President Obama’s planned executive orders pertaining to immigration into a political liability heading into the midterm elections, according to one of the leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

“You can sense already, even among my Democratic colleagues, a kind of — ‘this issue is a little too complicated, too risky, let’s go small,’” Representative Raúl Grijalva (D., Ariz.) said on C-SPAN’s Newsmakers. “Politically, they’re tied together and the children at the border and his executive orders are going to get tied together.”

Grijalva said that the United States needs to invest in Central American countries to mitigate the desire by Central Americans to leave their homes.

“Nation-building is such an open concept, but I think real investment in the development of those countries, real investment by the [United Nations] and a third party in a judicial system that works and a security system that isn’t bought out — those are long term issues, but those are the root causes,” he said.

Resist We Much on July 14, 2014 at 3:58 PM

IMHO Obama did not ‘encourage’ this, he created this, using political operatives, and with the complicity of Mexico, which would not let this massive flow through their borders without a promise it would continue into the USA.

If we have honest historians, they will not be examining how Obama handled the ‘crisis’, they will be examining how he staged it and why so many went along with the crime

entagor on July 14, 2014 at 4:31 PM

The president has used this crisis to push for a $4 billion supplemental funding request, but has stipulated on several occasions that these funds had to be passed by Congress before there would be any emergency response to the flood of unaccompanied children crossing the border. That does not even resemble a “response” to an acute crisis. In all past disasters of this scale, the response comes first and without hesitation. The petty bickering over how to pay for it is a secondary concern.

1) event happens
2) president asks for funding to deal with event
3) republican congress refuses to give funding
4) ???
5) republicans blame president for lack of solution

right. The difference between this an previous crises is that this time around we have a congress that has embraced obstructionism as a religion, that successfully shut down the government rather than pay for spending they authorized. It’s not exactly unreasonable that Obama would want them to actually agree to pay for the solution before he spend the money on it. And apparently he was exactly right since the right immediately refused to pay.

But somehow you take this as a sign that Obama is at fault….hrrrrm.

Tlaloc on July 14, 2014 at 5:51 PM

+1. I’m reminded of a line from Carpenter’s “Airplane”
 

Randy: Can I get you something?
Second Jive Dude: ‘S’mofo butter layin’ me to da’ BONE! Jackin’ me up… tight me!
Randy: I’m sorry, I don’t understand.
First Jive Dude: Cutty say ‘e can’t HANG!
Jive Lady: Oh, stewardess! I speak jive.
Randy: Oh, good.
Jive Lady: He said that he’s in great pain and he wants to know if you can help him.
Randy: All right. Would you tell him to just relax and I’ll be back as soon as I can with some medicine?
Jive Lady: [to the Second Jive Dude] Jus’ hang loose, blood. She gonna catch ya up on da rebound on da med side.
Second Jive Dude: What it is, big mama? My mama no raise no dummies. I dug her rap!
Jive Lady: Cut me some slack, Jack! Chump don’ want no help, chump don’t GET da help!
First Jive Dude: Say ‘e can’t hang, say seven up!
Jive Lady: Jive-ass dude don’t got no brains anyhow! Shiiiiit.

 
He said that the country is in great pain and he wants to know if you can help him, and jive-ass dudes don’t got no brains anyhow! Shiiiiit, indeed.

rogerb on July 14, 2014 at 6:03 PM

Tlaloc on July 14, 2014 at 5:51 PM

Cute. Try this:

Step 1. President makes illegal policy changes which CAUSE event.

Step 2. President pretends to be shocked and surprised when “event happens” that everyone with a brain foresaw as a logical consequence of stupidity, and those without one see as some spontaneous random occurrence.

Step 3. President requests a ton of money to be spent in ways which won’t actually solve the root problem.

Step 4. Republicans balk at flushing money down the toilet so Obama can pretend he “did something”.

Step 5. Obama and useful idiots like you blame shift onto Republicans for “obstruction.”

Here’s a clue, obstructing stupid and damaging policy is a GOOD THING.

Give me 10 million dollars so I can buy an F-18 to bomb your house. If you don’t “immediately agree,” then you’ve “embraced obstructionism as a religion.”

CapnObvious on July 14, 2014 at 7:42 PM

Here’s a clue, obstructing stupid and damaging policy is a GOOD THING.

Give me 10 million dollars so I can buy an F-18 to bomb your house. If you don’t “immediately agree,” then you’ve “embraced obstructionism as a religion.”

CapnObvious on July 14, 2014 at 7:42 PM

Tlaloc is an idiot. All you need to know.

HumpBot Salvation on July 14, 2014 at 8:22 PM

You do realize that Katrina did not hit New Orleans. In fact, if the levees hadn’t burst several days afterward, New Orleans would have been completely unaffected by Katrina.

The media covered New Orleans because the rest of the area in South Louisiana and South Mississippi (where the hurricane actually hit) didn’t interest them.

Biloxi and Gulfport were devastated by Katrina, and Slidell took a lot of damage. New Orleans was damaged by its own government.

And Bush was limited in what he could do, because the Democratic governor of Louisiana didn’t want to make a decision.

With Katrina, the national media continued their long streak of getting nearly every detail of every major story wrong.

There Goes the Neighborhood on July 14, 2014 at 11:19 PM

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