Even MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski Can't Understand Why Obama Won't Visit the Border

Has Barack Obama lost Mika Brzezinski? Wednesday morning on Morning Joe, the MSNBC co-host wondered why the President is still refusing to visit the border while in Texas. Brzezinski argued that if Obama really does have a vision, why not go down to Texas and show the Republicans lack of effort on the issue?

Of course, Brzezinski threw in the “make Republicans look bad” caveat, but she also pointed out that, because of how out of hand the crisis at the border has become, “it’s been so difficult to figure out which side has the better point on immigration.”

The President is in Texas this week for Democratic fund-raising events. Both Republicans and Democrats are now calling for him to make a stop at the border while in Texas. One Democrat calling for Obama to stop at the border, Rep. Henry Cuellar, even noted that if the President fails to act this could become “his Katrina.”

Brzeznski called out Obama by arguing that if he does indeed feel “strongly about his attempts to get something done on immigration” why wouldn’t he go visit the border?

She argued that the President is missing an opportunity to show that he really does care about the “humanity and lives of these children” by not engaging in the “optics” of visiting the border.

Placating her liberal base, she added, “Isn’t there an opportunity here to show how the Republicans have failed these children with the President using” this trip to "make a statement?" Guest Gene Robinson agreed with Brzezinski and noted that he could even use a visit to the border to explain what he plans to do with all the money he requested from Congress.

The relevant portion is transcrbed below:

MSNBC
Morning Joe
July 9, 2014
6:07 a.m. Eastern

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Gene, it's been so difficult to figure out which side has the
better point on immigration. It's one of those issues. It's coming down to now arguing over a handshake or whether or not the president should go to the border. If the president feels strongly about his attempts to get something done on immigration and if the Republicans have failed or if Boehner has failed or if they have stymied the process as many argue, why not go to the border and say this is what I wanted to do, and the Republicans are in the way and use the opportunity to bring light to the issue by actually being there?

EUGENE ROBINSON: I don't know. I don't know why not go to the border except that the White House doesn't like to present optics. They feel we're about substance, we're not about optics. That's just for you guys to take pictures of, but it doesn’t really solve anything. I think optics do matter. I think in this case he could draw more attention an focus on an immediate problem that needs to be solved. You ask what is the money for? One thing it should be for is providing a way to handle with the influx on a humanitarian basis and also to decide the cases of these children. They all have to be looked at to see if they qualify for asylum, if they get sent home? How does that happen? What happens to them in the interim? To do that process now can take years for each child. That's unacceptable.

BRZEZINSKI: I think any opportunity to kind of show the humanity and the lives of these children would be important. Optics often looks like a shallow argument in terms of PR, but isn't there an opportunity here to show how the Republicans have failed these children with the president using perhaps the trip?

Jackie Seal
Jackie Seal is a 2014 summer intern with the MRC's News Analysis Division.