Loose Canons

The Vuvuzela President

Mark July 29 on your calendar -- Republican governors from Alabama to Louisiana to Arizona have every reason to unite against this noisy leader and the noisome feds.

By 6.21.10

The constant droning noise emanating from President Obama sounds more and more like the kazoo-like tone drowning out World Cup Soccer games. His vacuous Oval Office oil speech last week was redundant proof that he's succeeded in turning the bully pulpit into just bull.

More importantly, his administration's concerted efforts to thwart the will of the voters should add up to the last straw for our nation's governors and make July 29 the launching date for a renewed summer of townhalls to unify conservatives with the Tea Partyers this fall.

When we think of the Coast Guard, we think of skilled rescuers braving the worst the seas can offer to pluck unfortunate boaters out of some watery disaster. But last week -- for reasons understood only by their commanders -- they managed to abandon that for the role of the heavy-handed government preventing local action to ameliorate the damage that the BP oil spill is inflicting on Louisiana.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal -- entirely frustrated by the Feds' failure to employ all available resources to stop the oil from drifting into his state's coastline waters -- hired sixteen barges which were busy vacuuming the oil out of the water until the Coast Guard showed up and stopped their operations because -- says the Coast Guard -- they didn't have enough safety equipment aboard.

Is the lack of a few fire extinguishers and life vests enough to order that stoppage? Apparently. But instead of offering help -- even to sell the required equipment to the barge operators -- the Coast Guard shut them down. This is the heavy hand of government falling on those who were trying to do what the Feds wouldn't do.

From an Ecuadorean reporter's interview with Hillary Clinton we learned that the same heavy hand is about to fall on Arizona. The new Arizona law aimed at illegal immigration -- which mirrors Federal law in requiring people stopped by police for other infractions to prove their legal presence in America -- will go into effect on July 29. And -- according to Hillary -- the president has directed the Justice Department to bring suit to overturn the law. (The Justice Department later said it was still "reviewing the law," i.e., apparently trying to concoct a basis for attacking it in federal court. The ACLU has, as we'd expect, already filed a lawsuit against it.)

It's as hard to believe that Hillary would be speaking the truth as it is to believe she'd get something as important as Obama's direction to Holder wrong. For once, Hillary is probably telling the truth.

Again, the heavy hand of the Obama administration isn't like the open hand offering help or even the unconditional negotiation offered Iran. Bobby Jindal's oil sweepers and Arizona's law are apparently more dangerous to Obama's agenda than the Iranians' nuclear program. Jindal stood his ground and -- after making his strenuous arguments to the White House -- the Coast Guard eventually let the most of the barges go back to work.

Other Gulf Coast governors seemed equally upset. Alabama Gov. Bob Riley said he'd had problems with the Coast Guard as well. He'd asked them to find floating booms to protect Alabama's coast and -- having brought them all the way from Bahrain -- the Coast Guard deployed them off Louisiana.

The missed lesson here is that the Gulf Coast governors should have worked together to organize pressure on the White House. Will Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer do better?

She may. Brewer met with Obama on June 3 and the subject of the coming Justice lawsuit never came up. Hearing of Hillary Clinton's statement she said, "To learn of this lawsuit through an Ecuadorean interview with the secretary of state is just outrageous.… If our own government intends to sue our state to prevent illegal immigration enforcement, the least it can do is inform us before it informs the citizens of another nation."

Brewer has an advantage that Jindal and Riley didn't: time. In the five weeks before July 29, she could -- and should -- be calling and organizing other conservative governors to join in opposition to both the ACLU suit and the possible Department of Justice case.

Even if the courts rule that the other states can't defend Arizona's law as parties to the cases, the governors can and should file amicus curiae briefs in support of the Arizona law. They also can -- and should -- energize their congressional delegations to support their position forcefully. On television, radio and in print the governors and members of Congress can make themselves heard above Obama's drone. Perhaps sufficiently to convince the Justice Department to back down before it files the lawsuit.

Conservative leaders should be thinking long and hard about the underlying theme. Americans are very angry at their government and (as the Rasmussen poll last week showed) at the Obama cheerleaders in the media. The Tea Party movement embodied that anger, reflecting peoples' frustration at the passage of Obamacare despite the majority opposition to it. Another Rasmussen poll -- released on Friday -- shows that 56% of U.S. voters believe the Justice Department shouldn't challenge the Arizona law and only 26% think it should.

In those polls -- and in the Coast Guard action against Jindal's oil sweepers -- are the ingredients some conservative leader could stir together into a potent townhall potion for this summer. It's a commonplace for Republicans and conservatives to bemoan the Tea Partyers' reluctance to be organized (hypnotized?) into sure Republican votes in November. It's time to quit bemoaning that fact and do something about it.

July 29 should be a very good day for conservatives. Not only will the Arizona law be going into effect, but it will mark a milestone: the 100th day since the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig exploded and sank, resulting in the worst oil spill in our history. The coincidence of time should make it a day of townhalls and rallies across the nation.

The point is not to celebrate a disaster but to praise Arizona's action in doing what the federal government has failed to do, and to condemn the government's failure to protect the shores from the tide of oil washing ashore and into the coastal wetlands.

BP may have stopped the leak by July 29, but the oil will still be washing ashore. In the five weeks between now and then, Bobby Jindal should invite Jan Brewer to a townhall on a Louisiana beach to announce Louisiana's joining in the defense of the Arizona law. Brewer should join him in speaking against the Obama administration's consistent failure to do its duty to protect our shores.

Tea Partyers would heed this call, and erupt into another summer-long series of townhall meetings to defend the governors and oppose the Obama administration's serial actions to thwart the will of the voters. It'll be an unruly, messy summer. Just as our Founding Fathers would have prescribed. 

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About the Author
Jed Babbin served as a Deputy Undersecretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush. He is the author of several bestselling books including Inside the Asylum and In the Words of Our Enemies. He is coauthor (with Herbert London) of the new book The BDS War Against Israel. You can follow him on Twitter@jedbabbin.