Out of Touch: What the president’s immigration speech and “The DaVinci Code” have in common
What was missing in the president’s approach the other night was the expression, or suggestion, of context. The context was a crisis that had gone unanswered as it has built, the perceived detachment of the political elite from people on the ground, and a new distance between the president and his traditional supporters. The president would have done well to signal that he knew he was coming late to the party, as it were; that he’d come to rethink his previous stand, or lack of a stand, and had begun to consider whether there was not some justice in the views, and alarm, of others.
Without an established context the speech seemed free-floating: a statement issued into the ether, unanchored to any particular principle and eager to use, as opposed to appreciate, whatever human sentiment flows around the issue of immigration. It was a speech driven by an air of crisis, but not a public crisis, only a personal and political one.
To acknowledge what he apparently thinks are the biases of the base, he used loaded words like “sneak”–illegal immigrants “sneak across the border”–as if to establish his populist bona fides. This was, not to put too fancy a rhetorical term on it, creepy, and managed to be offensive to everyone.
What was needed was a definitive statement: As of this moment we will control our borders, I’m sending in the men, I’m giving this the attention I’ve given to the Mideast.
Once that is done, all else follows. “Comprehensive solution” seems like code for “some day we may do something”. No one believes in comprehensive solutions. They believe in action they can see. No one believes in the wisdom of government, but they do believe it has a certain brute power.