The Tahmooressi Case

This week’s American Spectator column deals with the refusal of the Obama administration to secure the release of Andrew Tahmooressi from that Mexican jail, and what it says about this president as a leader and a good-faith player on the political scene…

If Nieto has some consideration he’d take in return, without giving away the store Obama could easily do so. If Nieto isn’t so inclined, Obama has an endless supply of sticks on offer – like, for example, launching a federal investigation into remittances from America back to Mexico with an eye toward catching as much cash being sent home by the drug cartels. Or issuing travel advisories aimed at draining American tourism from Mexican hotspots like Cancun, Cozumel and Cabo San Lucas because of what we suddenly see as an uptick in “gang activity” there. Obama’s leverage to secure Tahmooressi’s release is almost absolute.

And it’s in his interest to spring Tahmooressi. The case is high-profile enough by this point that should the administration cause him to be released Obama’s credibility would improve with the American people. His approval rating would tick up. His prestige would tick up. The perception of his competence and ability to get things done would tick up. The electoral prospects for his party in the November midterms would tick up. The morale of the American people would tick up. The pushback against Obama’s affinity for a more activist federal government might slightly abate.

That he refuses to get involved despite so obvious a brief for doing so—not to mention a legal duty—isn’t just a reflection of his incompetence. It looks more sinister than that. Tahmooressi is a white, male, heterosexual gun owner. The reader will forgive this columnist for thinking that if this were otherwise, his case would enjoy more currency with the president. Right now it looks as if Obama, who has just sent the Justice Department to Ferguson, Missouri, is refusing to act as president of the entire country, intervening only on behalf of those who belong to his party’s constituency groups.

And it fuels the idea that his presidential failure isn’t just what happens when you elected a community organizer to the most powerful job in the world—it’s what happens when someone with that job, unqualified or not, fails on purpose.

The State Department’s communications on the Tahmooressi case have been remarkably tepid even by its standards.

Here’s a quote from an L.A. Times piece last month by Robin Abcarian which must be read to be believed…

“Quite frankly, Mr. Tahmooressi’s case has gotten a tremendous amount of attention from the State Department,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State John D. Feeley, the No. 2 official in the department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs and former Marine Corps officer. “This is a case we have raised repeatedly and at high levels with the Mexicans. Secretary [John F.] Kerry did it in May. I have raised the case with the Mexican ambassador in Washington, our ambassador in Mexico has raised it with the [Mexican] foreign secretary and we have had excellent cooperation in that we have had access to him on a regular basis.”

Feeley’s quote says the same thing as the official White House response to a petition signed by over 134,000 people asking Obama to demand Tahmooressi’s release.

Abcarian’s L.A. Times column more or less lays out the Left’s response to demands that Tahmooressi be let go. Contra the rather obvious judgment that nothing is being done to secure Tahmooressi’s freedom, she says Obama’s administration is doing all it should, and more, for Tahmooressi…

Jill Tahmooressi’s deft plucking of American heartstrings has been amplified by the Fox News echo chamber, helping turn her son’s story into both a conservative cause celebre and a minor political headache for the Obama administration.

What we know about her 25-year-old son is that he acquitted himself with valor on the field of battle during two tours in Afghanistan, and made some whopping mistakes upon his return, including driving across the border on March 31 with three loaded guns in his truck, a serious violation of Mexican law, for which he is now on trial.

Thanks to the ruckus his mother kicked up, he is now receiving the kind of special treatment that his fellow prisoners can only dream about. More power to her.

Since 2008, Congress has appropriated $2.1 billion to help Mexico deepen its commitment to the rule of law. How foolish and hypocritical to demand that Mexico now ignore the very justice system we’ve encouraged it to create.

So an American president is supposed to stand by while one of our warriors wastes away in a foreign jail on unjust charges – out of respect for the Mexican rule of law.

That nobody on the Left is emotionally exercised about the Tahmooressi case is troubling. It shows a startling lack of empathy on the Left for somebody in a clearly unjust situation – and particularly somebody who is at risk with PTSD in a prolonged environment of high stress – because he had guns. For the Left to care about you, the message seems to be, you have to be a member of one of their constituency groups. And white guys from the military who own guns are bad guys. Period. So screw Andrew Tahmooressi and he can rot in that Mexican jail.

That’s the Left’s attitude toward him, and when Republican politicians like Rick Perry, Ted Cruz, Ted Poe and Duncan Hunter join with media figures like Greta Van Susteren and Montel Williams in an attempt to get him out of there the Left’s attitude only hardens.

What’s sinister about Obama is that he will only do what pleases the Left. Obama’s political salvation, like Bill Clinton’s before him, lies in the center. Clinton was capable of reaching to the center; Obama is not. He won’t do what is in his political self-interest and get Tahmooressi out, which is at the end of the day not a difficult thing to do given the astounding negotiating power an American president has, because to do so would signify an olive branch to the non-Left.

And while that isn’t an earth-shaking surprise, it’s depressing. It’s getting more and more difficult to explain away Obama’s performance as incompetence. Something else is going on.

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