President Obama has heard some of the Republican hysteria about Syrian refugees, and he’s clearly unimpressed. “These are the same folks oftentimes who suggest that they’re so tough that just talking to Putin or staring down ISIL, or using some additional rhetoric somehow is going to solve the problems out there,” the president yesterday. “But apparently, they’re scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America as part of our tradition of compassion.
“First, they were worried about the press being too tough on them during debates,” Obama added. “Now they’re worried about three-year-old orphans. That doesn’t sound very tough to me.”
Evidently, this has hurt Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) feelings.
“Let me suggest something Mr. President: If you want to insult me, you can do it overseas, you can do it in Turkey, you can do it in foreign countries. But I would encourage you, Mr. President, come back and insult me to my face,” Cruz said. “Let’s have a debate on Syrian refugees right now. We can do it anywhere you want. I’d prefer it in the United States and not overseas where you’re making the insults.”
In context, Cruz’s school-yard taunts concluded with the senator calling for some kind of one-on-one debate with the president. “We’ll do it on any station,” the Texan added. “I’m sure any one of the TV stations would be glad to host it.”
I’m going to go out on a limb and predict the White House won’t make time for a televised conversation with a right-wing presidential candidate who’s accused the Obama administration of turning the United States into a state-sponsor of terrorism.
Call it a hunch.
What’s more, Cruz is doing more than just posturing and thumping his chest for the cameras. As the Washington Post reported, the senator “introduced a bill Wednesday that would prohibit refugees from any country the State Department has determined is controlled in part by a foreign terrorist organization from entering the United States.”
How would blocking victims of terrorism help? Cruz hasn’t explained, though it’s the sort of move that’s likely intended to impress Republican primary voters.
That said, if the senator is serious about a spirited debate over U.S. refugee policy, perhaps the best course of action would be an argument between this version of Ted Cruz and last year’s version of Ted Cruz.
Interviewed in February 2014, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz declared that Syrian refugees should be permitted into the United States and argued that this could be done without jeopardizing national security.“We have welcomed refugees – the tired, huddled masses – for centuries. That’s been the history of the United States,” he told Fox News in a video featured on Cruz’s website. “We should continue to do so.” He added: “We have to continue to be vigilant to make sure those coming are not affiliated with the terrorists, but we can do that.”
I’ll look forward to Cruz’s condemnation of Cruz for his reckless indifference to national security.