Sunday, February 18 , 2018, 2:34 pm | A Few Clouds 62º

 
 
 
 

Mark Cromer: Plug the Damn Hole, Mr. President

Obama’s passionless play on the border reveals his weak hand

President Barack Obama, seen by even many of his fervent supporters as an eloquent technocrat more comfortable in the scripted ether of soaring rhetoric than extemporaneous jolts of passion from the gut, finally had an opportunity to counter that perception with a reflexive jab at the unfolding disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mark Cromer
Mark Cromer

“Plug the damn hole!” Obama is said to have barked at aides during a closed-door meeting over the crisis that seems to deepen by the day.

That momentary flash of anger from Obama apparently electrified a press corps that is slowly emerging from its extended honeymoon, the commander-in-chief’s exhortation ringing like a proof-of-life tape amid a crisis that has clearly caught him flatfooted.

Yet when faced with the long-running crisis of America’s southern border — a 2,000-mile stretch of lawlessness that is evolving into the American version of the Pakistani tribal areas — Obama has been unable to muster any sense of passion, outrage or a pulse rate over 72 beats per minute.

Obama touts border security with all the fire of a thyroid-challenged accountant ticking off suggested investments for the upcoming fiscal quarter. Think actor Ben Stein on a couple milligrams of Xanax.

Ironically, it’s Obama’s refusal to speak passionately about the urgent need to secure the border that is at the root of the American people’s abiding suspicion that Obama, just like the half-dozen presidents before him, has no intention of controlling the border and enforcing the law.

And thus Obama finds himself in a catch-22, wanting to deliver his promise of a mass amnesty to the Latino groups in his political base, but reluctant to find religion on securing the border that will convince the American people he is serious about restoring the rule of law.

For all the strategic genius that presidential adviser David Axelrod and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel are said to possess, they, too, seem to be dithering while the border burns. Perhaps like Karl Rove before them they are too tantalized by the chimerical “Hispanic vote” (a bloc that was 9 percent of all eligible voters in 2008, with an even smaller turnout at the polls) to fully grasp the deepening anger that is spreading faster than an oil slick among a vast majority of U.S. citizens.

Thus Obama claims he understands the anger and frustration of Arizonans who have watched their state being overrun — approximately 1-out-of-10 people in Arizona today are in the country illegally — but then promptly instructs his attorney general to plan a challenge to the state’s law and, insult to injury, backhands the citizens of Arizona to the delight of Mexican President Felipe Calderón.

But the nadir came when Obama’s administration announced it would dispatch 1,200 National Guard troops to Arizona’s border with Mexico and kick down another $500 million to border enforcement.

That’s just slightly tougher than ordering several Boy Scout troops to patrol the Rio Grande and offering to hold a bake sale to support the campout. It’s a bad joke that does more to inflame the cynicism of most Americans than soothe their tempers.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., an architect of 2007’s amnesty plan, has admitted a minimum of 6,000 frontline National Guard troops are needed along the Arizona-Mexico border. And if that’s what McCain acknowledges, then triple that number for a relevant starting point.

As Mexico’s endemic corruption and its ascendant narco-kings usher in the failed state’s death throes and a new era of violent chaos, Obama would do well to gather the Joint Chiefs of Staff and utter a simple, direct and passionate command: “Plug the damn hole.”

Then, and only then, will he have any hope at all of convincing the American people that he is truly committed to securing America’s bloody southern border.

— Southern California journalist Mark Cromer writes frequently about immigration.

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