Resolved, on MSNBC’s Morning Joe today: The Obama administration isn’t just “mailing it in,” as Mike Barnicle suggested in the avalanche of crises and scandals in Barack Obama’s second term. However, the alternative may be worse. Chuck Todd argues that the White House hasn’t given up, but they’re clearly incapable of controlling events any longer. In terms of the border and on ISIS, that may be worse. After all, a lack of enthusiasm and attention is fixable:
Allahpundit addressed this earlier this morning, and this shows that “less conservative brows” are indeed beginning to furrow — and not just about the border, although that’s a big part of this discussion. Not only are multiple crises spinning out of control with little evidence of effective response from the White House, Obama is out on walkabout instead of at least looking like he’s in charge by either being present in the Oval Office or going down to the border. Todd discussed the optics of the latter on Today:
If Obama was addressing the issue from the White House, then the optics issue might have been mitigated. Instead, he’s YOLOing across the country while the border gets overwhelmed by what appears to be a modern version of the “children’s crusade.” It presents a stunning picture of bankrupt leadership, and cannot help but to add to the perception of presidential incompetence that has sharply risen over the last eighteen months.
Even worse, Obama demands that Congress hand over an additional $4 billion to address the border crisis, which was double what the White House had earlier signaled and contains significant amounts of money for other unrelated issues. Not much in the bill actually addresses border security, either. National Journal reports that Republicans aim to change that and highlight the cognitive disconnect in Obama’s funding request:
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida wants to require employers to verify electronically that new hires are in the country legally and the government to put in place an electronic entry-exit system at points of entry at the border. He says the border crisis creates an opportunity for policy-makers to finally address broader immigration enforcement.
House Speaker John Boehner wants the National Guard to be deployed to provide humanitarian assistance to the children waiting for processing.
Sen. John McCain of Arizona wants “an expedited return of the children back to their country of origin,” which is not in the request Obama sent to Congress. “That’s the only way to stop this,” he told reporters.
By seeking a hefty amount of money to address a growing problem at the border, Obama has opened himself up to a hefty dose of GOP criticism for the ways in which his administration has handled the border up to now. He might not get anything out of it in the end, and the negotiations could drag on for weeks.
Apparently, the White House didn’t bother to do its legislative liaison homework before dropping the request on Capitol Hill:
“They’re so screwed up over there. I don’t think they know what they’re thinking,” said Rep. Buck McKeon of California, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. He and other Republicans are upset that the White House telegraphed for almost a week through the press that the request would be $2 billion. Now it’s almost double that figure, and it includes money for wildfires that no one was expecting.
Roll Call notes that House Republicans weren’t terribly impressed with the funding requests that did have some connection to the border crisis:
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said in a statement that Obama “created this disaster.”
“Most of the money requested in the President’s supplemental seems geared towards processing Central Americans than stopping the surge itself,” Goodlatte said.
Another Republican who has consistently accused the president of failing to enforce border security, Lamar Smith of Texas, said in a statement he doesn’t trust the president.
“I’d be happy to give the President $3.7 billion to secure the border if I thought he’d actually do it. But time and again President Obama has shown that he cares more about the interests of illegal immigrants than of law abiding citizens,” Smith said in a statement.
Still, John Boehner urged House Republicans today to work on funding in response to Obama’s request before the August recess. However, it’s not likely to closely resemble Obama’s priorities. Boehner doesn’t want to get the blame for not responding to the crisis, but he’s not going to give Obama a blank check either. If Democrats refuse to take up the House bill in the Senate, that will be Obama’s problem again and not Boehner’s, assuming he can succeed in producing a funding bill to more properly secure the border.
That would show real leadership. Perhaps Obama and the White House can stop YOLOing long enough to learn from it.