It was early last month when Donald Trump formally directed thousands of National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, ostensibly to combat illegal border crossings. "Until we can have a wall and proper security, we are going to be guarding our border with the military," the president said at the time.
It quickly became obvious, though, that the White House couldn't fully explain the point of the policy. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen tried to defend the deployments, but it didn't go especially well. A CNN report added that it "remains unclear exactly what [the National Guard troops] will be there to do."
Nearly two months later, the story looks slightly worse. The L.A. Times reported overnight:
A month after President Trump called for sending National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, the head of the national Border Patrol union called the deployment "a colossal waste of resources.""We have seen no benefit," said Brandon Judd, president of the union that represents 15,000 agents, the National Border Patrol Council.The criticism is a dramatic departure for the group, which endorsed Trump's candidacy for president and has praised his border security efforts, including National Guard deployments.
Mother Jones' Kevin Drum added, "This is yet another example of Trump talking big but accomplishing little because he has no idea what the issues really are and what kind of actions to order. He just tweets out a command to deploy the National Guard to the border, basks in the applause, and then assumes everything will just work out."
Exactly. Trump's actions and decisions aren't governing in any meaningful sense. He starts by making false assumptions based on dubious reports he learns from conservative media -- the president is convinced there's a border crisis, reality be damned -- and then tries to think of "solutions" that will impress his rabid base.
In this case, that meant deploying thousands of National Guard troops.
What would the troops do? Trump didn't know. How would they help? He didn't know that, either. What specific policy would they be implementing? Don't ask the amateur president, who tends not to see such decisions though a substantive lens.
Why pretend there's a border crisis while simultaneously bragging about the historically low number of illegal border crossings? Because Trump isn't familiar with cognitive dissonance, either.
"We generally support the administration," the National Border Patrol Council's Brandon Judd added, "but we're not going to be cheerleading when things are not going well."