It’s not the first time Joe Biden has made the “worst possible choice” in public policy and it won’t be the last, either. However, as Arizona governor Doug Ducey pointed out last night, picking someone who literally laughs off border concerns when asked does not raise much confidence that the crisis touched off by Biden will get resolved either. Ducey, who has at times offered qualified praise for Biden’s COVID efforts, blasted the president for assigning the catastrophe to Vice President Kamala Harris.
Don’t hold back, Doug… tell us how you really feel:
If President Biden's intent was to show he's taking the crisis at our border seriously, he's actually done the complete opposite by selecting V.P. Harris to lead on this issue. He's completely trivialized this issue by putting someone in charge that flat out, just doesn't care. pic.twitter.com/LCvotQomTa
— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) March 24, 2021
Gov. Doug Ducey on Wednesday called Vice President Kamala Harris “the worst possible choice” to lead efforts to curb migration at the southern border, saying President Joe Biden had “completely trivialized the issue by putting someone in charge who flat out just doesn’t care.”
“At no point in her career has (Harris) given any indication that she considers the border a problem or a serious threat,” Ducey told reporters in Tucson, hours after Biden announced he’d picked Harris for the job.
“If President Biden’s intent was to show that he’s taking this issue seriously,” he said, “he’s really done the exact opposite.”
Republicans for weeks have criticized the White House’s handling of immigration issues, bolstered by an ongoing surge in arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border. Apprehensions began climbing last spring, under former President Donald Trump, but spiked further after Biden reversed many of Trump’s more aggressive immigration policies.
During a visit to the border on Friday, Ducey pinned the increase entirely on Biden, excoriating the president as “totally divorced from the reality on the ground.”
So why does a red-state governor blasting Biden matter? Ducey’s no fire-breathing MAGA type, for one thing. His own party censured him recently for being insufficiently supportive of Donald Trump’s “stop the steal” campaign, instead choosing to defend Arizona’s conduct of the election. Unlike some other red-state governors, Ducey’s continually downplayed his political ambitions, either for the Senate or the presidency. He’s also shown a cooperative spirit on COVID-19 strategies and logistics, as the New York Times’ Jonathan Martin noted on Twitter.
It also matters because Ducey’s two terms in office has given him a great deal of experience about what works and what doesn’t at the border. On that, Ducey and the Republican Party are more in consonance, plus his experience on the issue far outstrips that of either Biden or Harris. In fact, one has to wonder why Biden didn’t think of asking Michelle Lujan Grisham to lead his effort rather than Harris. Grisham has two years in on her first term as governor in New Mexico, so her experience isn’t as robust as that of Ducey or Texas’ Greg Abbott, but at least she would have some credentials for running this project. Perhaps Biden tried and Grisham decided that it would be a political no-win scenario, but then there are a number of Democrats on Capitol Hill from border states to tap for this job.
Harris, as Ducey points out, is almost certainly the worst choice. Maybe that’s all Biden had left who was willing to clean up Biden’s craptastic handling of the border, but Harris’ lack of seriousness poses an immense political risk from front-line governors who now have every reason to highlight every one of her missteps.