Update: Evidently the Gov. handed the President a letter demanding he visit the border with her whilst wagging her finger at him and declaring that she had “saved” the border. If any of this bears out, she purposely and publicly confronted him and then blamed HIM. Nice…very classy Gov. Brewer.

Arriving in Arizona yesterday, the President had what was characterized as a “tense” exchange with Gov. Brewer. Evidently it was about something in the Governor’s book that said he had “lectured her” back in 2009 about illegal immigration. The caption on the still of their conversation (see still capture below) used by the Today Show said “Obama Confronts Arizona Governor Over Book Claims”. Now look at the picture below, what do you see there? Who is giving off confrontational non-verbal body language? The Governor is the one who is pointing her finger, speaking with a lot of emotion in her face. The President on the other hand is leaning to the side, reaching out to the side, making himself vulnerable to her…it’s a sign of conciliation, not confrontation. Afterward, the Governor gave a statement where she said that SHE felt threatened by him because she was there to “welcome him”. Then I later read that the Governor said Obama told her “that he didn’t feel I had treated him cordially.” Wow, that’s really threatening isn’t it?! /snark (take a look at the raw footage at Huffington, not that revealing except that the President didn’t look threatening from the little that I could see, I couldn’t see her at all in that raw video).

Tense Exchange Still from the Today Show

Tense Exchange Still from the Today Show

I have a few thoughts about this. From the still the President actually looks conciliatory and slightly amused by her reaction. She looks like the aggressor. All I know is that if someone got in my face with their finger pointed like that I would feel threatened–and it’s not the President who is pointing there. However, a still is not the entire conversation so without a video I can’t say any more than that. Also, we don’t know who actually brought the topic up. It might not have been Obama, as the Today Show caption indicated, but maybe it was. If he did bring it up, his intention may not have been confrontation but a desire to clear up her misconception…we’ll never know unless we were a little birdy perched on their shoulder.

Yet we can still put it into some context. Ever since the President was elected, she has been ragging on him about illegal immigration, and that’s just one of a host of issues she vehemently disagrees with him about. The President, while also strongly disagreeing with her on those issues, has offerred time and time again to meet her halfway with a compromise solution. Here’s an example of that….Back in April of 2011, Sen. McCain and Sen. Kyl layed out a grand plan for border security requesting 3,000 National Guard soldiers in addition to the troops requested back in 2009. The Governor supported their plan. Indeed her own request around the same time for 250 additional National Guard soldiers paled in comparison. The Senators and the Governor expected the Federal Government to pay for those soldiers, which I believe would be the correct thing to do. This request would have been 12 times the number of troops sent to the border at the height of the Bush Admins push to secure the border back during a previous mission called Operation Jump Start back in 2006 to 2008. Although there has been an increase in crime in the U.S. it has almost been exclusively within the drug community–meaning that those involved were in the drug trade or closely related to someone in the drug trade. But that could begin to affect legitimate citizens so it is a real concern.

Pres. Obama approved sending 1200 additional troops to the border and requested additional funding from Congress to the tune of $500 million. Moreover the U.S. Border Patrol was in the process of recruiting and hiring more agents but that takes more time than just sending existing soliders. If the President had sent the number requested by the Senators, it would have probably cost around $1 billion. Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t do it because it is expensive. I am saying that if Republicans, like Governor Brewer, Senators McCain and Kyl want the U.S. to deliver democracy around the world at the end of gun (i.e., Iraq and Afghanistan), then they had better expect that funding and troops for other needs like border security are going to get shortchanged. The U.S., while the most prosperous and productive country in the history of the world, does not have unlimited funding.

They refuse to accept that the President can’t give them all that they want because he has to deal with ALL the issues such as a two front war, the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, etc. And this would have been the case even if it had been a Republican President in office–they wouldn’t have gotten everything they wanted. As evidence that they won’t accept that he’s doing all he can do, Gov. Brewer instigated a lawsuit in federal court accusing the President of failing to enforce immigration laws or maintaining control over the border (this was basically a countersuit to the DOJ challenge to SB1070). Her accusation was patently absurd as I will show you in a minute and the suit was dismissed in Oct. 2011.

Furthermore the President, from an overall viewpoint, has been tougher than any previous administrations. President Obama’s administration deported more illegal immigrants in the first three years of his administration than G.W. Bush did in all eight of his years in office. The President has increased the number of troops on the border (as noted above) even though we really couldn’t afford it AND he continued the expansion of the number of agents in the Border Patrol begun by G.W. Bush. As of 2011 there are twice as many Agents as there were in 2004, and the majority of them (about 17,000 agents out of the total of 21,000) are on the Mexican Border.

So that’s your context…The Republican Party, with people like Gov. Brewer and Senators McCain and Kyl, demanding that he not only give them everything they want on the Border in addition to demanding just some of the following from President Obama and his adminstration:

1. continue a war in Iraq that he did not originally want
2. continue nation building in Afghanistan which he did not think was feasible and which was so ignored by the former Republican President that it was not likely recoverable
3. continue indefinite detention of enemy combatants in Guantanomo in spite of the fact that he wanted to close it and even requested that Congress fund the closing….they said no
4. continue prosecuting people using military tribunes instead of criminal courts
5. accept whatever laws the states chose to pass regarding illegal immigration (like SB1070, in spite of the fact that they were more likley unconstitutional) which forced the DOJ to fight back

And those are just the highlights. All of these things have diverted manpower and funds from important domestic problems. So it’s no wonder the President doesn’t get all warm and tingly when dealing with Governor Brewer and, quite frankly, she knows this. That’s why I think she is being manipulative and disingenuous when she felt “threatened” by the President.  If anything, I would say it was the other way around.

Sources:

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