A Lesson About Details From Bob Goodlatte

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 11 2014 9:47 AM

What's In the Details

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Bob Goodlatte is sure he's got all the answers

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Over at Breitbart.com, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (who chairs the House Judiciary Committee) issues a chutzpah-sodden column about "How Obama can stop the border crisis." Within the space of two paragraphs he writes that "this crisis at the border is a disaster of President Obama's own making" and that "President Obama's policies have caused the crisis," but we're in luck—he has "the tools to fix it," as the House committee that Goodlatte runs will sit over here reading the funnies. Goodlatte's proposals for giving "Border Patrol agents access to federal lands" and reconnecting DHS with local law enforcement seem sensible enough, but his first big idea is smaller than it seems.

Send the strong, public message that those who enter illegally will be returned. President Obama needs to use his bully-pulpit to send the clear message that those who are seeking to enter the U.S. illegally will be returned to their home countries and that subjecting children to the perilous trek northward to our southern border will no longer be tolerated.
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Here's Obama just two days ago, in that Dallas press conference, which was televised.

While we intend to do the right thing by these children, their parents need to know that this is an incredibly dangerous situation and it is unlikely that their children will be able to stay.  And I’ve asked parents across Central America not to put their children in harm’s way in this fashion.

A perfect example of how the details of a speech can be obscured after everyone focuses on a phrase or two.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.