[guest post by Dana]
President Obama and Gov. Perry met in Texas today to discuss the “humanitarian crisis” on the southern border. And from the reports, it was about what you would expect.
I won’t spend much time on the president’s comments, because we already knew ahead of time what they would be, so just a quick summary: Congress (specifically, obstructionist Republicans) needs to get this done, the president doesn’t need to visit the border because the officials he has sent are reporting back to him. Extensively. So stop criticizing him. And mostly, he wants you to know this isn’t theater, he’s not interested in photo-ops, he’s interested in solving a problem. (For a look at just how not interested in photo-ops he is, check out Ace’s gallery…of photo-ops). Oh, and he wants Perry’s help to push Texas Republicans in Congress to swiftly approve the $3.7 billion needed to implement their shared goals.
While both Perry and the president were philosophically in agreement, Perry had a number of concerns, including a seeming lack of urgency on the president’s part in sending the National Guard to the border. Some highlights below and an interview with Perry at the link:
“You know, I was like, Mr. President, you can deal with this. You can unilaterally direct the Department of Defense to put those troops on the border…” he said, later adding, “The president needs to understand that the single most important thing that he can do is put the National Guard on the border to coordinate with local law enforcement, with state law enforcement, with the border patrol…”
Obama said Wednesday that he is open to the National Guard suggestion, but that he believed it would only be a temporary fix.
Perry also criticized the fact that Obama is not visiting the border on his trip to Texas so he can witness the crisis first-hand. Obama said in a press conference Wednesday that doing so would be engaging in political “theater” and not productive.
“I said Mr. President, I really want you to come and see this,” Perry said. “I said this is important for you to absorb as a father, but more importantly as the president of the United States to see the humanitarian crisis.”
Perry said Obama’s refusal to do so is no different than the criticism President George W. Bush received when he chose to fly over New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina instead of visiting the city on the ground. He said Obama sending Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is not enough.
“I’m pretty sure that if George Bush had said ‘well I sent my FEMA director multiple times’ he still would have been criticized greatly,” Perry said. “Because you need to go. That’s what governors do, that’s what presidents do. When there are natural disasters, when there are crises like these, a president needs to be there to show the American people number one that he understands.”
UPDATE BY PATTERICO: Rick Perry captures my feelings about Obama with this expression: