There are some reliable partisans who simply do not criticize their man no matter the circumstances. But with the current border crisis President Obama may have reached a point where even the true believers are starting to panic, at least a little.
Yesterday MSNBC’s Alex Wagner asked White House surrogate Cecilia Muñoz, “Why is the President not visiting the border?” When Muñoz responded with an alphabet soup of agencies engaged in the crisis, Wagner interrupted her saying, “The President visits humanitarian crises all over this country, why is he not going to the border to look at this one?” But Muñoz reply about a “whole government effort from the President on down” didn’t satisfy Wagner who asked about the “blowback” that could follow the President’s decision to visit Texas but not the border.
White House surrogate Cecilia Muñoz returned to MSNBC today and, once again, was hammered over the President’s decision to skip the border. “People are asking, including a Democrat congressman, one of your own
members, why he is looking so aloof, and why ever he decided to play
pool in Colorado,” host Andrea Mitchell said. Just like Alex Wagner, Mitchell seemed concerned about the negative impact the decision might have saying, “So far the politics isn’t working and the substance isn’t working, so somebody’s gotta revisit this.”
But the real bellwether on this issue has to be this column by reflexive GOP basher Michael Tomasky. After several warm up paragraph insulting Gov. Rick Perry, Tomasky writes:
They were asking on Hardball Tuesday night whether this might
be Obama’s Katrina. We’ve had a string of little crises that were all
supposed to be Obama’s Katrina, and they’ve mostly been jokes. Slate’s
Dave Weigel counted up nine of ’em. It’s been silly. But somehow, this one didn’t ring so false to me when Matthews et al were discussing it Tuesday night.
For one thing, there is the specific parallel of the flyover: Obama
was going to Texas for a fundraiser but wasn’t planning on going to the
border? I usually try to ask myself what I’d be saying if a Republican
did X, and if a Republican did that, I’d be teeing off. It’s not
Second, Obama is at a really vulnerable point in his
presidency, I think, not dissimilar to the point George W. Bush was at
in August 2005, when Katrina hit. Then, Bush’s approval rating was
generally in the mid-40s, as Obama’s is now. Hanging on, but vulnerable
to one straw that could break the camel’s back. Obama is in that place
And by the way, even Dave Weigel, who wrote the column implicitly mocking the Katrina comparison which Tomasky links sees a problem:
It does seem weird for Obama to bro out with horse head Denver dude but not be able to visit the border.
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) July 9, 2014
In any case, Democrats seem sincerely worried about the damage this could do to Obama. I think they’re right to worry. Obama came to office on steadiness and empathy. In 2012, he returned to office as the guy ready to put his arm around Sandy victims. That he won’t do the same for kids crossing the border seems jarringly out of character. If his staunch supporters sound rattled by this, the Democratic rank and file is probably more so.