Obama spoke on economy is not on the list of priorities for Texans

On Thursday, President Obama spoke to members of the Austin community on everything from Congressional gridlock to his love of good ole’ Texas barbecue — even making a headline-garnering trip to Franklin’s. There was one thing, however, that he seemed a bit hesitant to address: the refugee crisis currently being faced by the state at the border.
Like any good politician, his speech played to his strengths: the latest job report for one as well as the recovering economy. He even chose a UT student, public relations junior Kinsey Button, to introduce him, constantly referring to “Kinsey’s struggle” to pay for college in an attempt to personalize his speech. These anecdotal tactics are certainly not the first to be utilized, nor are they ineffective by any means. Obama’s strengths lie largely in the fact that he is relatable: He truly is the “people’s president.”
“Each day,” the president stated in his Thursday speech at the Paramount Theatre, “I will keep asking the same question: how can I help you?” Sadly, Texas constituents may have come away from the speech with that question left largely unanswered as the president failed to discuss the humanitarian crisis, choosing instead to focus solely on party strengths.
To Obama’s credit, the speech was primarily disclosed as one to discuss the economy. And in this sector, things have been looking good: Fifty-two straight months of job growth, an unemployment rate that’s at its lowest since 2008. These numbers are encouraging, and the Austin community applauded each point with resounding support.
“We’re fighting for an agenda that creates more good jobs… in American manufacturing, in construction,” Obama said. “This country succeeds when everybody has got a shot.”
Indeed, the economy seems to be getting back on its feet, and as a Democratic president appealing to one of the most conservative states in the nation, Obama can’t be faulted for boasting his successes on this front.
But in the wake of national crisis, we must ask: Where is our president’s presence?
The immigration debate is not a simple issue, nor can it be divided on clear-cut ideological lines. But the latest numbers illustrate the immediacy with which this crisis must be attended to. In the past two years, illegal immigration rates have quadrupled. And in true American style, it is attended to largely through finger-pointing and fighting proposals. Republicans want more troops to secure the border, and have moved to increase the amount of National Guard security. Democrats cite the number of apprehended immigrants that lead to a “backup in the system,” proposing a $3.8 billion dollar authorization to address the problem. The parties do have one thing in common, however: Each side balks at the idea of supporting the other. “The House is not just going to rubber-stamp what the administration wants us to do,” said U.S. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R – FL).
Little can be accomplished in this stubborn partisan standoff, but neither party seems willing to stand down on the issue.
Prompted by criticism from the right, Obama hastily reconfigured a meeting with Perry during his Dallas trip. But a trip to the border was noticeably off the agenda. His trip seemed to be more fundraising, less functional. More support-focused, less substance. This is not uncommon for presidents, and to pretend these trips aren’t essential to the political process would be naïve. But to so ardently gloss over the administration’s failures seems to come across as a bit irresponsible, and it has not gone unnoticed by the Texas community.
“I think Obama’s obviously a great orator, and really enjoyed his speech,” says Danielle Johnson, speech attendee and self-proclaimed progressive Republican. “But it just makes you wonder … when he noticeably ignores these prevalent issues. I mean, it’s a border crisis and he’s speaking in Texas. You’d think he’d tailor his agenda just a little.”