The Times Tells Selective Truths

The Senate has passed funding for 370 miles of border fence and 500 miles of vehicle barriers, according to this piece from The Washington Times.

The Times calls this "an abrupt about-face" because the Senate rejected similar funding on July 13. Says pro-enforcement Sen. Jeff Sessions:

"People heard from their constituents after they voted to authorize the fence in May and then voted against funding it a couple of weeks ago."

Maybe. But that ignores basic principals of our legislative process: Legislators often end up rejecting provisions they support -- evidenced in this case by the inclusion of fence-building clauses in the immigration bill they sent to the House -- because they are included alongside provisions they do not support. It does not necessarily show a change of heart on the part of the Senators. The Times would have done well to interview any of the 66 Senators who did the "about-face" rather than asking Sen. Sessions to speculate on their motives.

In fact, the article does acknowledge this right at the end, when discussing Sen. Bill Frist's "switching" his vote.

According to Frist's spokeswoman, "her boss feared what homeland-security programs might be cut under that earlier amendment.

"Other top Republicans seconded that explanation as the reason they voted against the last amendment and for this one."

So, this does not mean that Senators suddenly "heard from their consituents" and some sort of burgeoning tide of pro-fence sentiment in this country. This funding was included in S. 2611, the bill the Senate sent to the House in May and that the pro-enforcement folks have been deriding ever since. Those who claim the Senate is finally hearing the people have not been paying attention. However, mentioning this earlier in the article might ruin The Times's pro-enforcement agenda -- by telling the truth.

The article makes another rather dubious claim here:

"But the Guard's presence has led to a 25 percent drop in apprehensions at the border compared with the same time last year, suggesting the troops are having success in preventing illegal aliens from trying to cross."

A lot of factors play into how many apprehensions the BP makes. Consider the current deadly heat wave that's killing people across the country. Now consider trekking through the desert in it. Also, the state of uncertainty over Mexico's still-undecided presidential elections could have a role in the number of people trying to cross. And the fact that the BP has caught fewer people could also mean that more people are getting through -- and/or dying in the desert.

But The Times makes a good point -- though not surprisingly -- in calling out Democrats, particularly Rep. Nancy Pelosi, on their politicking.

"Democrats seized on the report as evidence Mr. Bush has fallen short on a key measure of homeland security.

"'The record is clear: for more than five years, the president has failed to secure our borders and to enforce our immigration laws,' said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, who added that Republicans in Congress have let Mr. Bush get away with under-funding the Border Patrol and have delayed 'real immigration reform' by fighting among themselves over whether to do enforcement first or pass a broad bill."

Pelosi's statement seems to affirm Democratic commitment to acting like Republicans rather than taking an independent stand on issues other than Bush-bashing.

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