While running for president, Joe Biden preached that he was the right choice to unite the country.
Now, as our president, he really needs to work on that.
The nation was certainly already fractured when he took office in January, but Biden has done little to heal those wounds. In fact, he has made them worse in many cases.
In his latest error, Biden has come under fire for his lapse in judgment – or more fittingly, his rush to judgment – in tossing Border Patrol agents under the bus in Texas.
Reuters published footage last month of mounted Border Patrol agents facing down about 200 Haitian migrants near Del Rio, Texas. The Reuters article, and some that followed, mistook the officers’ reins for whips and claimed they’d been wielded against migrants.
Biden, who has been under fire amid the border crisis, apparently saw an opening to change the script and play to his anti-law enforcement supporters. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden considered the photos “horrific and horrible.” Biden’s vice president, Kamala Harris, piled on: “What I saw depicted about those individuals on horseback, treating human beings the way they were, is horrible.”
And Congressman Al Green, a Democrat, said the images reminded him of the infamous Bloody Sunday in Selma, Ala., in 1965, when police officers with billy clubs attacked mostly Black people marching for voting rights.
What was left unsaid was that the photographer who captured the recent images of Border Patrol agents using horses to keep the Haitian migrants from illegally entering the U.S. said the images had been “misconstrued” as showing abusive behavior.
“Some of the Haitian men started running, trying to go around the horses, and that’s kind of when the whole thing happened.” photographer Paul Ratije said, according to the New York Post. Ratije noted that “I didn’t ever see them whip anybody” with the reins.
Biden could be playing the race card, which appeals to many of his Democratic supporters. Whippings conjure up images of America’s sad chapter of slavery, and the president could see this as an opportunity to score political points.
But another concern about this case is how Biden has tainted the Department of Homeland Security investigation that is now underway.
One of the bedrock principles in America is that any person is innocent until proven guilty, and Biden’s comments have cast overwhelming doubts on whether a fair investigation will take place.
“It is impossible to believe a fair and impartial investigation can and will take place after the president pronounced the agents guilty,” National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd wrote in an email to the Washington Examiner.
Indeed, the president said “people were being strapped” in an “outrageous” way.
“I promise you those people will pay,” Biden said of the agents during a White House news conference. “There will be consequences. ... It’s dangerous, it’s wrong. It sends the wrong message around the world, it sends the wrong message at home. It’s simply not who we are.”
A half-century ago, then-President Richard M. Nixon asserted that Charles Manson, a hippie cultist who was on trial in California, “was guilty, directly or indirectly, of eight murders without reason.” Faced with criticism that he had prejudged the outcome of the Manson trial, Nixon tried to walk back his statements, but the damage had been done.
Today, more damage has been done.
But it wasn’t inflicted by our Border Patrol. It came, once again, from Joe Biden.