A 'wall-cam' won't help the White House's plans along the border

Donald Trump's dream of building a giant border barrier isn't going especially well. After the president insisted, for example, that the wall/fence is "impenetrable," we learned the opposite is true. It didn't help matters when U.S. military leaders suggested the White House's financing plan adversely affects our national security interests.

Complicating matters, the administration is facing legal challenges surrounding the takeover of private land for the project, and Acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan conceded yesterday that literally zero miles of new border barriers have been constructed since Donald Trump took office -- the Republican president's claims notwithstanding.

That said, the fight over one of Trump's signature campaign promises is poised to enter a new phase, as the administration moves forward with plans to build eight miles of new fencing in an area in Texas where there are no existing barriers. According to a Washington Post report, the White House has an unusual public-relations idea related to the endeavor.

Jared Kushner and other senior Trump administration officials are planning to set up web cameras to live-stream construction of President Trump's border wall, going against objections from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and senior U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials, according to four people familiar with the White House proposal."There will be a wall cam, and it'll launch early next year," said a senior White House official involved in the initiative, which aims to rally public support for hundreds of miles of new border barrier Trump wants in place by next year's election.

This is not a good idea.

For one thing, if the White House hopes this will change public attitudes about the endeavor, it should probably start lowering expectations. A livestream of an unpopular infrastructure project, built on a broken campaign promise, that doesn't solve any problems, won't exactly generate excitement among voters.

For another, there are practical considerations to consider. Not only are there proprietary construction techniques that contractors want to protect, but as the Washington Post's report added, "Officials at the Army Corps and CBP also were concerned the cameras would show U.S. work crews violating Mexican sovereignty because they sometimes must stray south of the border to maneuver their vehicles and heavy equipment in the desert. Because some of the remote border areas lack network access, the cameras will require their own web connectivity and attendants who could frequently reposition them to keep the lens pointed at the action."

And then, of course, there's Congress. Overnight, MaddowBlog received an exclusive first look at a new proposal from Sens. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) that would block federal funds from being used to livestream border wall construction.

"The only idea dumber than building a so-called 'impenetrable' wall along our southern border is livestreaming it," Markey said in a statement. "Trump has already wasted billions on his border wall boondoggle, we shouldn't waste a single dollar on a wall-cam." The text of the very short "No Wall-Cam Act" is online here (pdf).