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Opinion: Morning Examiner

Has Texas Gov. Rick Perry thrown down the gauntlet to Obama on immigration?

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Mark Tapscott,Morning Examiner,Immigration,Barack Obama,Texas,Mexico,Border Security,Rick Perry,National Guard

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is sending up to 1,000 National Guard troops to the Lone Star State's border with Mexico in an attempt to contain the flood of illegal immigrants entering the U.S.

Perry can do this because under the Constitution, state governors are the commanders in chief of the guard, which is the modern equivalent of colonial militias.

Perry's action has the potential to change the political dynamics of the immigration reform debate but it depends upon whether it makes a discernible difference in the situation on the border.

Missing the point, as usual

As the New York Times predictably described it, Perry's move projects "a get-tough immigration message that foreshadows the approach to the current crisis by his party in Congress and that could position him in another bid for the Republican presidential nomination."

But casting the Perry decision as a self-serving political maneuver for him and Republicans likely misses the substance and significance of what the Texas governor has done to the immigration reform debate.

Instead of simply decrying Washington's political gridlock while allowing the situation on the ground to worsen, Perry actually did something concrete to secure the border, which is the essential prerequisite both for resolving the immediate crisis and for clearing the way politically to achieve comprehensive immigration reform.

First, secure the border

Politicians in both parties have played fast and loose with the truth while claiming to support that simple requirement — secure the border so we know who is coming into the country.

What Obama's inaction did as the flood swelled into the national consciousness was puncture the claim that the border is secure. Now it's obvious to everybody that the border is not secure despite the reassurances from two presidents.

Then along comes Perry to puncture Obama's hypocritical claim that he has to use his "pen and phone" to overcome obstacles thrown in his way by House Republicans.

You want action or politics?

Bill Murchison, a sage Texas political writer and former Dallas Morning News columnist, put it best: "Abroad, Putin will slither and the jihadists slaughter. A governor can do only so much. Perry has done as much as he could. But you know what? He did something."

In a nation that reveres getting things done, there is no worse public Image for a politician than to be seen as incapable of making decisions and acting, particularly in defense of the country.

Perry has thus thrown down the gauntlet to Obama: Do something to protect the country's borders or move over and let somebody else do the job.

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The American Spectator: At last! Someone (Rick Perry) does something about the border crisis.

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The Federalist: What should a "do something" Congress do?

Lefty Playbook

The Nation: How should Obama deal with a world engulfed in war?

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Blog Left

Talking Points Memo: Perry says U.S. should reimburse Texas for cost of troop deployment on the border.

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