President Obama’s top staffers have been tweeting #TheBearisLoose – an inside joke they coined in 2008 to describe when candidate Obama would spontaneously deviate from his schedule. During the campaign it could have been a cute camaraderie-builder, but this week it only serves as a reminder of Obama’s lack of leadership.
A crisis is engulfing the southern border. Over the past several weeks there has been a surge of unaccompanied Latin American children from crime-ridden countries like Honduras and Mexico. These young men and women are being shepherded with the “help” of drug cartels through the Rio Grande Valley and left for themselves to cross the border.
Their families seem willing to bear the risk because they believe, perhaps rightly so, that President Obama would let many of them stay. It’s easy to understand why family’s would take the risk given the president’s lax border-control policy. But unchecked immigration, especially of unaccompanied minors, is creating a humanitarian crisis and risks a national security disaster.
The problem has been slowly building. According to Brian Bennett of the Los Angeles Times, U.S. Customs and Border Protection figures show that fewer than 4,000 unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras were taken into custody for most of the last decade. That number steadily rose over the last two years before completely exploding in the first few months of this year. Between last October and this June 15, Border Control discovered 39,133 children.
As Sen. John Cornyn of Texas explained, the problem isn’t limited to minors.
“Last year alone 414,000 people were detained on our southwestern border from 100 different countries,” Cornyn said. “This isn’t just about people who have no hope and no opportunity trying to come to the United States from Mexico and trying to get a job. This is about uncontrolled immigration through our southwestern border from all over the world.”
So where has Obama been as this flood of immigrants—which he himself labeled a “crisis”—comes to America? Shooting pool and having a beer in Denver. Chowing down on pizza and drinks with strangers. And fundraising in Dallas and Austin.
Yes, the president made a fundraising trip to Texas, but couldn’t bring himself to make a stop at the border to see the problem for himself. That isn’t sitting well with some members of his own party.
“When he is shown playing pool in Colorado, drinking a beer, and he can’t even go 242 miles to the Texas border?” Rep. Cuellar (D-Tex.) said. “Border community leaders want to see him down there on the border. And I think the optics and the substance of it is that he should show up at the border.”
“He either can roll up his sleeves and go down to the border or he can just look aloof and detached and not go to the border.”
The president has clearly opted for aloof. Or as his aides jokingly label him “the bear is loose.” White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer brushed off criticism, saying the president “just wants to get out.” But to many, especially those living in border states dealing with the crisis firsthand, it looks like the president is running away. Unfortunately for the president, this may be a problem he can’t run away from. Rich Lowry writes for National Review:
The first rule in a crisis for any executive is put on his windbreaker and boots and get out on the ground. President George W. Bush didn’t do it soon enough after Hurricane Katrina and, politically, could never make up for it, no matter how many times he visited New Orleans subsequently. Obama’s bizarre resistance to visiting the border on his fundraising swing out West fueled talk of the influx as Obama’s “Katrina moment.”
The Katrina analogy is both over the top and too generous. It is over the top because the border influx isn’t a deadly catastrophe swallowing an American city. It is too generous because Bush didn’t do anything to bring on Hurricane Katrina, whereas Obama’s policies are responsible for the influx of immigrants from the border. It is, in the argot of his administration, a “man-caused disaster.”
What they don’t seem to realize is that that man is President Obama and it’s long past time for him to fix this mess.