For the second time in a week, the editorial board of the Washington Post took direct aim at the Biden administration for its utter incoherence. The first excoriated Joe Biden for issuing a new eviction moratorium that he knew was unconstitutional. Yesterday, the editors blasted both Biden and Kamala Harris for their “torrent of words and goals untethered to specific policies and timetables.”
The editors deserve at least one cheer for belatedly noticing this, but their concern seems more about the electoral consequences of this incompetence:
Vice President Harris, tasked by the president with devising an immigration blueprint, has laid out a perfectly sensible long-term strategy to address factors driving illegal migration, buttressed by five “pillars,” or specific problem areas in Central America requiring Washington’s focus. They include the region’s anemic economy; pervasive corruption and weak democratic and justice structures; attacks on human and labor rights as well as the media; mayhem and extortion by criminal gangs and trafficking networks; and sexual and domestic violence.
That’s fine as far as it goes. It’s also a list that anyone with a passing knowledge of the region could have compiled. What is mostly missing from the sweeping rhetoric and broad-strokes analysis is an actual plan for action.
Ms. Harris and administration officials have also described short-term steps designed to get a handle on deterring the current tsunami of migrants and asylum seekers at the border. But the convoluted messaging — telling migrants not to seek entry to the United States while at the same time relaxing or scrapping an array of measures that would actually dissuade them, and providing relief to migrants on both sides of the border — has been a failure.
That failure is measurable, and it is politically toxic.
And that appears to be the biggest concern for the editorial board. The editors recognize the “incoherence” of Biden and Harris on the border and immigration, but mainly in the context of Democrats’ fate in the midterm elections:
However, they have driven a policy whose incoherence has yielded pressure at the border that may cost the Democrats control of one or both houses of Congress in next year’s midterm elections. So far, there is nothing in the administration’s short- or long-term strategizing that is likely to shift that dynamic.
Is that the biggest concern about incoherence on the border, though? The flood of asylum seekers has outstripped our resources to deal with them, even though most of them will almost certainly not qualify under current asylum requirements. As the White House keeps highlighting the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19, they are transporting these illegal immigrants without testing into various areas of the country. The city government in McAllen, Texas has tested these migrants and found over 1500 out of 7000 positive for COVID-19. If that’s a representative sample of the people emerging from the border facilities, there are much bigger problems than a tough re-elect cycle for the party controlling these policies.
This failure is indeed measurable, but the primary metric isn’t House seats.
Anyway, kudos to the editorial board for recognizing the incompetence of Biden and Harris, even if they had to leaven that recognition with a rhetorical slap at Donald Trump over his “pernicious policies.” Perhaps those policies were “pernicious,” but replacing them with word salad has been a disaster, one that even the Post is tired of avoiding.