The Four Stages Of Negligence

Webster defines negligence as: “Failure to take the care that a cautious person usually takes.”

My version: “Actions that result in predictably negative results with little or no prior thought or preparation.”

All of which returns your mind’s eye to the ongoing dysfunction at the southern border – a situation that began to spiral out of control the very minute a newly-installed President Joe Biden overturned the various Trump executive orders that had slowed illegal migration to a trickle.

Biden’s policy reversal signaled that Stage I had arrived: a “successful” undoing of Trump border policy.  In fact, the president’s action amounted to a full court, in-your-face to Trump and his army of “America Firsters.”  The message was hard to miss.  Xenophobia would no longer be tolerated.  No more children in “cages.”  No more family separation.  No more tears from a visiting AOC.  The adults were back in charge.

But that wasn’t the half of it.  The president and vice president doubled down on their promise to resist a wall – to protect those here illegally even if they had committed “minor” crimes (including DWI!).  Nobody would have been surprised to see a big ol’ “Welcome” sign hanging over the entrance to Eagle Pass, Texas.

History records that the world noticed. Caravans from Central and South America were organized.  Drug cartels flourished, especially those specializing in fentanyl.  Human trafficking networks expanded exponentially.  Coyotes found themselves in high demand. Criminals made money (and mayhem) hand over fist.

Millions of “newcomers” came and went. A couple million went so fast a new term was coined: “gotaways.”  Border Patrol agents morphed into immigration clerks and the progressive activists who called themselves “media” kept referring to the newly arrived as “asylum seekers.”

Remarkably, the president of the United States and his secretary of Homeland Security kept assuring the public that all was well – that the border was under control – that those nativist Republicans were too busy gaslighting to be believed. The secretary even said – under oath – that the southern border was “secure.” For approximately half the country, the administration’s assurances were taken at face value. Stage II then (“Denial”) was accomplished and made a part of the formal narrative.

But ten million human beings are difficult to hide. Geez, even gotaways…get away to somewhere. That somewhere included blue sanctuary cities along the coast and in the heartland.  Begrudgingly, even the mainstream media began to report on the flood of arrivals now taking up residence at the local airport or having taken over your child’s local public school. A few (thanks to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis) ended up on the hyper-progressive Martha’s Vineyard where – for some reason – they were quickly removed.

Still, when the feds refused to pick up the entire tab for the new visitors, local Democrat officials screamed bloody murder.  This siren call was followed by similar screams from so-called Democratic moderates in swing districts who were hearing an earful from their none-too-pleased constituents.

And when these persistent protests turned into really bad poll results for the incumbent…Stage III (“Acknowledge but Redirect”) had arrived.

The veteran expert on shirking responsibility (Biden) sprung into action. Why, it was those dirty Trump House Republicans who were to blame after all. Yes, it was those immigrant-hating GOP obstructionists who killed a “bipartisan” Senate bill that would have done the trick overnight. All of which sounded so good…but only when repeated real fast.

Alas, once given a minute for thought, the majority of voters remembered it was the president who possessed the unilateral power to protect the border. And all he had to do was reinstitute Trump-era executive actions.

Accordingly, despite POTUS’ protestations to the contrary, most voters continue to blame him and not Trump.  This is where we stand at the present moment.  The only outstanding question is whether Biden will ultimately adopt the Fourth Stage of negligence (“Regret”).

Guess we’ll have to wait until November to find out.

Bob Ehrlich is a former governor of Maryland, member of Congress, and state legislator. He is the author of five books on American politics and opinion pieces that have appeared in America’s leading newspapers and periodicals. He and his wife, Kendel, can be seen and heard on their weekly podcast, “Bottom Line with Bob & Kendel Ehrlich.”

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.


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