There was a bit of a media dustup late last week on the border issue after Bill Cassidy appeared on the Denny Schaeffer Show on WRNO-FM radio in New Orleans Thursday. Schaeffer asked Cassidy a couple of questions and didn’t like the answers to them.
You could make a good argument, which we would be sympathetic to, that when Schaeffer was basically demanding that Cassidy say unequivocally that he wouldn’t support one red cent of new funding to address the Central American invasion on the border, and that unequivocally he’d need to vote to change that 2008 law which says all the illegals coming from Central America have to get a day in court before they can be sent home (the law was put in place to fight sex trafficking and it’s being abused to let the current wave of immigrants into the country in contravention of its original intent) – or else Cassidy’s a RINO – is totally unfair to Cassidy.
If you listen to the segment, Cassidy’s trying to say that while he certainly wouldn’t be supporting this $3.7 billion President Obama has asked for, there are some things he might support. For example, he’d happily buy these people plane tickets home, and he’d also be OK with bringing in a bunch of people on an emergency basis to staff the judicial process that sends them home. That’s going to cost a lot less than $3.7 billion, and it’s within the spirit of what Schaeffer’s audience is going to want – which is to get rid of these people.
After the appearance, the Cassidy camp put out a statement outlining his position on the $3.7 billion…
“The American people want our borders secured and our laws enforced. They shouldn’t have to write a blank check for a President who for five and a half years has refused to do this.
“The President has contributed to this humanitarian crisis through his own executive actions and his failure to enforce our laws. Now he fails to take any responsibility. In addition, the Senate immigration bill immediately grants temporary legal status to illegal immigrants prior to the borders being secured. It’s asylum without the assurance of border security.
“A clear signal must be sent—do not break up your family. Individuals who come here illegally are not welcome. Securing our borders must be a priority.”
That’s a fairly clear statement of where he stands; probably clearer than what came across on the radio Thursday.
And what happened as a result was that Rob Maness picked up on the appearance, and particularly Schaeffer’s warning to Cassidy that he’s going to get bashed as a RINO for answering the questions the way he did, and then transcribed some of the calls which came in afterward (whether Maness planted those calls or not is an open question; if he did, that would constitute good gamesmanship for which he ought to be congratulated). Naturally, that made its way out as a press release…
Schaffer: Alright, Bill [Cassidy], Let me tell you what’s going to happen after you and I get done talking. Can I tell you what’s going to happen?
Schaffer: My phones are going to light up and people are going to go, “Denny, he’s not a conservative. You kept asking him and giving him a chance, and he wouldn’t say what most conservatives want you to say: ‘It doesn’t matter if President Obama wants a penny for the border…’ His answer should be, ‘No, Mr. President, I will not consider it because, one, we don’t have the money; we’re not going to add it to the deficit, and, two, that will not fix the problem.'” So this is what’s going to happen when you and I get done.
First caller, Louie from Metairie: You are exactly right, and I want to thank you. I know you’re leaning toward Cassidy if not already a Cassidy supporter, but you were correct on that. You did give him several opportunities, and the simple answer was to say that, no, we’re going to send them back, that we need to send a clear message. If they need any money, it’s almost at the end of this fiscal year, the next fiscal year starts October, it would come out of that budget or they would have to reshuffle money from this budget, but not print it out of thin air. It was a simple, easy answer he could say, and he refused to say it.
Schaffer: I tried to you know, let him off the hook, and he wouldn’t take it.
Second caller, Mark from Slidell: You did ask him a good question, and he never answered no right away, and I’ve been on the fence with Cassidy or Rob Maness. I’m definitely going to lean toward Rob Maness now, and it just shows you that personally I think he would cave to John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, and that scares me. Another question you need to ask these guys is, do you guys wholeheartedly believe in what Mark Levin preaches, or how do we know that you’re not going to cave into Mitch McConnell and John Boehner and them? Thank you.
Third caller, John in Houma: Well, I’ll tell you what – Cassidy may have to find another living. Because I tell you what — He spoke just like a career politician. He dodged every bullet he could, and could not give a definite answer. We need to send ’em back – no offense – take care of ’em, feed ’em, send ’em home. We got enough unemployment here. Let them build a fence.
And then Maness put out something else…
Col. Rob Maness (USAF, ret.), the conservative, non-politician running for U.S. Senate to advance liberty, prosperity, and certainty, expressed his agreement with Senator Vitter’s clear support for stopping the illegal immigration crisis that is defining the southern border .
Vitter recently took the floor of the Senate and said, in part:
“…We need to get our core response right and the only way to stop this increasing flow, is to make clear that this activity won’t be successful. The only way to do that is to detain these illegal aliens in our country, keep them under our supervision until we quickly deport them to their countries of origin. That is the only response, the only message, the only visual, that will stop this mounting flow from continuing to grow. That is the most humanitarian response that will stop more and more of these Central and South American children from being put in this illegal trade and being victimized along the way.”
Maness said Vitter’s clear position is refreshing. “Sen. Vitter’s statement stands in stark contrast to Congressman Cassidy’s unwillingness to oppose President Obama’s request for $3.7 billion in borrowed money to support the illegal aliens who are streaming across our southern border,” he said.
Maness added that Sen. Mary Landrieu has no better a record on immigration than Cassidy. “Sen. Mary Landrieu supported President Obama’s 2013 amnesty bill and has been woefully negligent in her responsibilities to protect the border and support policies that are in the interests of Americans first,” Maness said.
Maness said that Sen. Vitter is clearly more in tune with the will of the people than either Cassidy or Landrieu. “During his tenure, Sen. Vitter has always been much more accessible than Landrieu and Cassidy and I’m sure that accessibility has helped keep him connected to the people he serves.”
Vitter has endorsed Cassidy, of course, so on that level Maness’ statement is questionable. On the substance, of course, what he’s saying is dishonest as well – Cassidy said on Schaeffer’s show that he’s not for the $3.7 billion; that’s clear. The only difference is he said he would be for spending some money to address the problem, and we haven’t seen or heard Vitter say he’s opposed to, for example, spending money on deportations.
What this comes down to is that Cassidy is trying to give an intellectual answer to Schaeffer’s questions and describe the pitfalls behind some of these policies. But that is over Schaeffer’s head, and as such it’s over the head of some of his listeners. When John from Houma says “We need to send ’em back – no offense – take care of ’em, feed ’em, send ’em home. We got enough unemployment here. Let them build a fence,” there isn’t a whole lot of difference between that and what Cassidy is saying. It costs money to “take care of ’em, feed ’em, send ’em home,” and Cassidy’s answers indicate he understands he can’t demand that while refusing to provide funding for it. But he’s not connecting with that audience, and he needs to if he’s going to win this race, by trying to explain it in detail.
Because there are practical considerations which make Schaeffer and the Johns from Houma easy marks for the people on the other side.
For example, let’s say the House decided it wants to change that 2008 law which requires the Central American kids to get a day in court before they get sent home. As a matter of policy, there isn’t a Republican in the House, not even the worst RINO you’ll find there, who would have the slightest hesitation in voting for that change. But that’s not what will happen. The House can pass that bill tomorrow, and when it gets to the Senate Harry Reid will immediately graft the Gang of Eight bill onto it and pass it.
Now, the House has a major problem on its hands, because instead of getting a very simple change in the law which would help to strengthen the border it’s now in a position where it’s going to deal with amnesty for all the people here – and maybe even all the recent arrivals – and there may well be 218 votes in favor of the Gang of Eight bill, because every single House Democrat will be for it and you might well have 15-20 Republicans who would cross the line and vote for it.
But if House Speaker John Boehner brings that monstrosity to the floor, his speakership is finished. So he can’t do it.
And the net effect is that the House gets blamed for there being no solutions to the invasion on the border. Which is exactly how Obama and Reid want it – because not only do they get to blame Republicans, they also get a justification for Obama to use his pen and his phone to control border policy even in contravention of federal law.
Frankly, the answer to this doesn’t lie in anything Cassidy, Maness or Vitter has said so far. The answer lies in what Rick Perry, the Texas Governor, said last week. Perry said we need the National Guard on that border to lock it down, and that’s the solution. The invasion stops as soon as the word gets out that there are soldiers manning it and nobody will get through, and one gets the sense that Perry is going to put the Texas National Guard along the Rio Grande any day now.
His problem, though, is that calling out the National Guard is expensive. States can’t just call out the Guard for extended deployments; if Texas were to do that it would crush that state’s budget. And Article 1, Section 10 of the Constitution makes it difficult for other states to help without Congressional approval. In pertinent part, it reads…
“No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.”
One could well make the argument that Texas is being actually invaded or that it’s in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay. We were told by a contact in incontrovertible position to know over the weekend that there are some 300,000 more illegals from Central America on the way to the border right now, and we know that among the people in this influx of illegals are thousands and thousands of tattoo-faced thugs from MS-13, the ultra-violent Salvadoran drug gang which is allied with the Gulf Cartel, the Sinaloa Cartel and Los Zetas – three of the worst Mexican drug cartels in operation.
To simply say “vote no on money for this, just send ’em home” is not an adult way to handle this problem. Not when you have a president and an administration with highly suspect motives which is already several chess moves ahead of Congress in furthering an agenda to use this influx to break the immigration system and create an open border and, ultimately, a brand-new electorate.
That’s not to say Cassidy goes that far, but he does have, and is trying to impart, some understanding of the nuances and pitfalls of border policy. To win on the issue, though, he’s going to have to distill and simplify his message to guard against the suspicions of Denny Schaeffer’s listeners.