As he travels to Texas today, President Obama has a clear optics problem: He’s in the Lone Star State to raise money at two different fundraisers (in Dallas and Austin), but he won’t be coming to the U.S.-Mexico border to inspect what his administration has called a humanitarian crisis. Indeed, the White House is digging in its heels to NOT bow to pressure to visit the border. “The important thing here is that we’ve involved the whole of government from the very beginning, that we have multiple agencies of the cabinet engaged in the highest levels, that the president is fully aware and on top of the situation,” White House domestic policy adviser Cecilia Munoz told MSNBC’s Alex Wagner yesterday when asked why Obama wasn’t going to the border. This is not the first time the White House has dug in its heels on an optics-related critique. Their mindset: It makes no difference in the president’s response to the crisis whether he’s physically at the border or not. And yet, it’s one of the parts of the presidency that THIS president has resisted the most: political theater. It’s part of the job, whether he likes it or not. Still, the White House seems sensitive enough to the criticism that it hastily arranged a 5:55 pm ET meeting in Dallas with faith leaders — and with Texas Gov. Rick Perry — to discuss the problems at the border. But if Obama has an optics problem, the Republican Party might have a much bigger one if they reject the White House’s request for $3.7 billion to respond to the crisis at the border.
House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte certainly doesn’t sound like someone who wants to approve the funding. “President Obama created this disaster at our southern border, and now he is asking to use billions of taxpayer dollars without accountability or a plan in place to actually stop the border crisis,” he said in a statement, per NBC’s Frank Thorp.