I can only imagine the machismo in the air at Wednesday night’s gubernatorial candidate summit on immigration and border security hosted by Mr. Muy Macho himself, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu.
According to a June 19, 2014, Arizona Republic story, “Four Republican candidates for governor spent Wednesday night trying to out-conservative each other on the topic of immigration and border security during a candidates’ summit in Pinal County.”
Secretary of State Ken Bennett, State Treasurer Doug Ducey, former GoDaddy executive Christine Jones and former Congressman Frank Riggs were all trying to show the other candidates and the crowd of Babeu loyalists who’s more macho. And why not; talking tough is the mainstay of the Arizona Republican politics even if it delivers nothing more than a good laugh for “The Daily Show.” It got Babeu re-elected even after getting caught with his illegal immigrant boyfriend, parading around in his undies on the Internet and the whopper of a fairy tale of one of his deputies shooting it out with drug smugglers south of Casa Grande that made national news and got him in tight with Sen. John McCain.
The border still makes an easy target for a politician to get a sound bite.
Christine Jones said, “There is no single question we get more than about enforcing our immigration law. It demands immediate attention. It also needs an intelligent response. Arizona is going to have to lead the way on this.” Jones “proposed a three-prong response to secure the border: Technology, people in uniform and improved fencing.” Then she pulled the usual dead rabbit out of her hat and blamed the U.S. government for not doing anything. I guess she forgot the U.S. Border Patrol’s nearly 22,000 agents?
Ducey echoed Jones’ get-tough-on-the-border dribble with, “Whatever it takes, whether that’s more fencing, satellites or new technology. I will re-prioritize law enforcement, DPS, Arizona Department of Public safety and the National Guard so we protect our border.” Ducey “would prioritize public-safety spending to focus on the drug cartels and human traffickers.” He said he would prioritize federal funds allocated to Arizona to focus on border security.
It’s too bad Ducey hasn’t taken a peek down from his ivory tower to see DPS is in such a state of failure thanks to mediocre leadership, underfunding, understaffing and political meddling that it couldn’t scare a bunch of high school kids smoking weed in a park much less the organized crime groups that control Mexico and are linked to the homegrown gangsters who reportedly control upward to 90 percent of Arizona’s serious crime.
Bennett touted his record in the Legislature by saying securing the border while in the state Legislature is proof of his dedication to the issue. “All of us are going to tell you what we’re going to do to solve this problem. But the best way to know what we’re going to do tomorrow is what we did yesterday.” Yesterday is pretty pathetic if you ask me. Bennett’s leadership in the Legislature is a big part of the problem. The state Legislature has failed miserably to lead and fund an organized statewide effort to attack crime. Thanks to that failure, and leaders like Bennett, the five “C’s” of Arizona we were taught in Arizona history class has changed from Copper, Cattle, Cotton, Citrus and Climate to Crime, Cannabis, Cocaine, Contraband and Corruption.
As for Riggs, the former congressman from California, he wants to call out the National Guard. Same old call-out-the-Guard rants we’ve heard for years.
Mayor Scott Smith, state Sen. Al Melvin, Andy Thomas and Fred DuVal didn’t attend the Babeu PAC dog-and-pony show.
Arizona is in even more serious trouble if the people who want to lead the state continue to stay fixated on the border and refuse to see the crime and criminals that commit the overwhelming majority of the state’s crime happen to be homegrown U.S. citizens.
Same circus, different clowns. So what else is new in Arizona politics?
• Retired Mesa master police officer Bill Richardson lives in the East Valley and can be reached at email@example.com.