President Barack Obama said some interesting things in his Jan. 27 State of the Union address. They’re interesting not so much because they’re lies, but because the political class — the kind of people who field lobbyists in Washington and file lawsuits for the ACLU and edit major American newspapers — was so confident that these utterances were lies that it simply ignored what might otherwise have been some earthshaking developments.
For instance, the president said, according to the White House’s prepared transcript: “We should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system — to secure our borders, enforce our laws, and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nation.”
I agree with that. I suspect Jim Gilchrist of the border-watching Minuteman Project could happily agree with that.
The only people who don’t agree with those words are Barack Obama and his liberal cohorts in Congress.
The words are designed to convince an unsophisticated rube — the kind of person out in televisionland who still believes the president speaks plain English and means what he says — that Mr. Obama wants to “secure our borders.” How would we do that? Since trained military personnel are expensive and currently mostly busy overseas, the most cost-effective way to “secure the border” would be to use a reliable, century-old technology.
I haven’t talked with Mr. Obama about this personally — he hasn’t dropped by. But I have talked with my own liberal Democratic Nevada congresswoman, Shelley Berkley, on the topic.
Last year, at a meeting here in the offices of the Review-Journal, I heard her use virtually the same formulation, saying, “Everyone agrees we need to secure our borders.”
I asked: “Are we going to use land mines and machine guns?”
The first, spontaneous expression on Rep. Berkley’s face — a mixture of horror and disbelief — was priceless. Then, laughing a bit nervously and glancing from side to side, as though checking to see whether men in white coats were about to remove me, she replied, “Oh, no one is considering that.”
I suspect far fewer illegals would perish in mine fields — fenced against livestock and prominently marked in English and Spanish — than currently die of thirst crossing our remote deserts.
But that’s not the point. When liberal Democrats say the want to “secure our borders,” what they mean is, “I’m not going to secure our borders.”
And now the interesting part.
Did you see any headlines in the days following the president’s speech, reporting that “Immigration advocates” (meaning “Illegal immigration advocates,” of course ) “express outrage at border-sealing initiative”?
Of course not. No one responded as though the president meant it — or even bothered to ask if he meant it — because they all knew he was lying, mouthing focus-group-tested but blatantly untrue things merely to assuage those rubes out there in the sticks.
How about the part about how he wants to “enforce our laws, and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nation”?
That’s intended to make an unsophisticated voter think, ” ‘Those who play by the rules?’ Well, good. That means those who filled out their proper forms, waited their turn, and came here with legal immigration visas. Of course they’re welcome. Meanwhile, the president clearly also means those who did not play by the rules will not be allowed to stay and ‘contribute to our economy and enrich our nation.’ Otherwise, he would have said ‘Anyone who has come here, whether they’ve played by the rules or not, can stay and contribute to our economy,’ et cetera. And he didn’t say that.”
But that last part is precisely what the president meant, of course. Mr. Obama wouldn’t need any congressional authorization to start rounding up barely-English-speaking illegal aliens tomorrow at workplaces, in our clogged hospital emergency rooms, waiting in line at the post office to send their “remittances” home to Mexico and Guatemala. Dwight Eisenhower did it 55 years ago without any problem.
But no reporter even checked back to see when he plans to start; no radical group in favor of the reconquest of Aztlan bothered to voice a protest and file a lawsuit seeking an injunction against the coming roundups and mass deportations. Why? Because they all know Mr. Obama was lying up a storm.
What fig leaf of a defense can the Democrats offer to this charge? Here it is: While bending over backward to not enforce our current laws, they hope to enact an amnesty bill disguised as “comprehensive immigration reform” — as though “reforming” the law now can retroactively restore legal virginity to a couple of million felons.
Then, under their hoped-for “new rules,” illegals would be asked to fork over $1,500 while demonstrating they can pat their heads and rub their bellies at the same time. Once they’ve done this, they’ll be told, “Congratulations, you’ve played by our (new) rules; here are your citizenship papers.”
I could go on. All kinds of seemingly cryptic utterances — promising to fight for “equal pay for equal work,” for example, a goal largely accomplished in this country decades ago — were in fact code talk designed to send brief, reassuring messages to extreme minority constituencies (in that case, feminists who want women to be paid the same as men in jobs arbitrarily declared “equivalent,” which is a very different thing), assuring them the president is still fighting for their economically crippling balderdash, but disguised in bland-sounding language designed not to tip off, arouse or offend those rubes out there in TV-land.
Others have already detailed Mr. Obama’s pathetic attempt to wrap himself in the cloak of fiscal austerity, vowing to “freeze spending” on programs that make up only a small fraction of the federal budget — programs on which he and his Democrat allies hiked spending by 25 percent in 2009, meaning that this “freeze” merely locks in place those unsustainable spending levels.
Though I did find it interesting that the next day, Jan. 28, The Associated Press reported, “The Democratic-controlled Senate has muscled through a plan to allow the government to go a whopping $1.9 trillion deeper in debt.”
Wow. Did the senators not get the president’s message? Or did they, in fact, read his cynical, Kabuki double-talk with practiced ease?
Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal and author of “Send in the Waco Killers” and the novel “The Black Arrow.” See vinsuprynowicz.com.