In our current, dysfunctional American political landscape, our leaders have become accustomed to sticking with agenda-driven talking points, even when reality demands a change in strategy. Nowhere can this be seen more clearly than in the Biden White House’s embarrassing attempts to spin the facts about the crisis on the southern border.
As the U.S. invasion of Iraq dominated the news in 2003, the seriousness of events collided with the bizarre spectacle of Iraqi Minister of Information Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf. Dubbed “Baghdad Bob” and “Comical Ali” by Western media, al-Sahhaf became part of the decade’s pop culture with absurdly untrue propaganda about how Iraq was executing a decisive victory over U.S. forces while reality told a very different story.
Americans found amusement in Baghdad Bob at the time as the product of a tin pot dictator’s fraudulent regime. Today, he seems to be the lodestar for the messaging coming from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the White House press office, and numerous other agencies in the Biden Administration.
As the country and its citizens confront the hardships associated with the de facto surrender of our border, the executive branch of our federal government has little to offer us other than demonstrably false and insulting talking points.
In repeated interviews, speeches, and testimonies before Congress, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has insisted that our border with Mexico is closed and secure. He makes these statements even as one of his own agencies, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), released data showing more than 2 million illegal border crossings in the current fiscal year—a record. Such blatant disregard for the facts and the failure to execute the requirements of his position are the driving forces behind the growing support in Congress to impeach Mayorkas in the coming year.
Like Mayorkas, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also insists that the border is secure. When asked by reporters to address the border crisis, she dogmatically reads verbatim talking points from a binder and rarely answers the question asked. On how the border is secure, Jean-Pierre responds that the administration has “secured record levels of funding” for the leviathan DHS.
On the topic of a border wall, Jean-Pierre and other White House apparatchiks are quick to respond that the administration has instead made investments in technology at the border. While there is certainly a role for many forms of technology assets at the border, immigration enforcement professionals have consistently asked for a significant, permanent barrier system at key points along the 1,954-mile southern border.
It is also the case that the anti-borders talking point about needing “more technology and less wall” is full of red flags. The DHS inspector general put out a report this month that the agency’s technology systems failed to allow CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel to track migrants from apprehension to release or transfer. The staff were forced to resort to using manual and ad hoc workarounds to do their jobs.
White House officials also reserve the right to utter contradictory talking points in the same response. Under questioning by Fox News’ Peter Doocy on the administration’s out-of-character move to fill in gaps of the existing border wall in Arizona in July, Jean-Pierre said that Biden was not finishing the wall, but “cleaning up the mess” allegedly done by the Trump Administration. She added that a wall is an “ineffective use of taxpayer dollars.” A slide rule would be required to calculate the tortured leaps of logic in those statements.
If the last two years have proven anything, it’s that we cannot dig our way out of problems like the border crisis through talking points. More than anything, it requires the political will to do what is in the best interests of American citizens, not a political party or a well-funded lobbying group. It also requires listening to the experienced professionals on the ground and giving them the tools they need to accomplish the mission. A nation that won two world wars and put men on the moon is certainly capable of this and more.
Baghdad Bob thought he could win a war with little more than specious talking points, and look where that got him. We should not follow his example.