President Barack Obama habitually brands his critics as obstructionist Republicans. He did so again Wednesday in Dallas, disparaging valid complaints about his lax response to the ongoing border crisis as "partisan politics."
But Henry Cuellar is a fourth-term Democrat representing Texas' 28th Congressional District, which includes some of the Rio Grande Valley. Over the last several days, Rep. Cuellar has expressed rising frustration about the lack of presidential action - and resolve - to counter the ongoing flood of humanity, including many unaccompanied children, across our nation's southern border.
On Sunday, Rep. Cuellar said on CNN's "State of the Union" that the administration "should have seen this a long time ago, because we saw those numbers increasing."
On Wednesday, he told "Fox and Friends" that though a White House official had called him to scold him for those remarks, "I'm more concerned not about who gets angry at me at the White House; I'm more concerned about my constituents who want to find a practical solution to this question that we're facing down there at the border."
Later Wednesday, Rep. Cuellar delivered a scathing review of the president's decision not to visit the border while in Texas this week. He told MSNBC that the sight of the president playing pool and drinking a beer in Colorado on Tuesday night before going to Dallas the next day was "bizarre."
Rep. Cuellar added: "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, send surrogates down there, and say that he's got everything under control."
Democratic House members Raśl Grijalva of Arizona and Filemon Vela of Texas also have called this week for the president to go to the border to see this mess for himself.
Still, President Obama declined numerous invitations from them and other elected officials in both parties to visit the border during his previously scheduled fundraising trip to Texas on Wednesday and Thursday.
The president said Wednesday that he's "not interested in photo ops" at the border. And he persisted in casting himself as the victim of GOP intransigence: "If I sponsored a bill declaring apple pie American, it might fall victim to partisan politics."
Yet it's the president's continuing failure to secure the border that finally derailed this year's last hope for bipartisan immigration reform.
The need for that overdue overhaul hits home in the Lowcountry. The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce warned again Wednesday that the chaotic immigration status quo hurts the business community, which needs immigrant workers and would like to have a reliable, legal way to hire them.
President Obama's June 2012 edict ending deportations of many minor illegal immigrants can reasonably be suspected as a motivating force behind the rising ranks of undocumented children entering the U.S.
A trip to the border could give President Obama a clearer picture of this crisis. It also could send an overdue signal that he's serious about fixing it.
The president has asked Congress for $3.7 billion to handle the border crisis. He also said Wednesday that "it is unlikely" that the undocumented children "will be able to stay" in the U.S.
But House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said they have no intention of giving the president "a blank check" in this case.
Given the president's immigration record, they are understandably wary about how much of that money would be used for border enforcement.
At least President Obama, after meeting with Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday in Dallas, said: "There's nothing that the governor indicated he'd like to see that I have a philosophical objection to."
Then again, talk is cheap.
So is dismissing legitimate criticism of the administration's border debacle as "partisan politics."
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