Let's be clear. When a cabinet head says she's going to send "as many troops as we need to get the mission done," she's using governmentese to say "we have no idea what we're talking about."
But that's the, er, exact number of National Guard members who will be ordered immediately to the border between the United States and Mexico to stop migrants, says Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen:
At WH this morning, @SecNielsen has no specific number of National Guard to be sent to southern border, but "we're gonna send as many troops as we need to get the mission done." Whether National Guard are armed or not to be worked out with Mexico and border Governors, she says. pic.twitter.com/dQK3sjMxR4
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) April 5, 2018
Matt Welch has noted that in sending troops to the southern border, Donald Trump is merely following in the footsteps of Barack Obama and George W. Bush, who did the same thing at various points. In fact, so did Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan. Sending troops to the border turns out to be, like violence, as "American as cherry pie."
So what's different this time around? Illegal border crossings dropped 25 percent between 2016 and 2017 and are currently at a 40-year low:
Donald Trump ran as a nativist who said, against all evidence, that Mexico was flooding our country with criminals, rapists, drug dealers, gang members, and welfare cheats. So in a fantastically gross way, he is simply fulfilling his signature campaign promise.
But he also ran as a savvy businessman who would "drain the swamp" and make government more effective, efficient, and cost-effective. This latest move is the opposite of all that and perhaps stressing that perspective might make the 89 percent of self-described Republicans who voted for him to think twice about meekly going along with every gesture President Trump makes.