Georgetown, S.C. – My Fox News baseball hat and sunglasses no longer work as a disguise here in the Carolina low country. As I stepped out of the Kudzu Bakery this morning, a fellow early morning shopper accosted me with an accusation and an inquisition: "You're from Washington. What the devil are those people up there thinking?"
Unwilling to accept responsibility for what passes for governance in the Federal City and unsure what had raised the ire of my acquaintance, I conceded that we live in Virginia and am indeed "based" at our Fox News Washington bureau. Nonetheless, I demurred at being held accountable for the misdeeds or malfeasance of the potentates on the Potomac.
As it turned out, my interlocutor was a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate, now a commercial airline pilot from Tennessee. He's here because his family's Florida vacation plans were wrecked by the as-yet unresolved Gulf oil spill.
But that wasn't the singular source of his frustration: "It's bad enough that these clowns can't figure out how to stop oil from flooding over a beach in Florida, but suing Arizona because they tried to stop illegal aliens from flooding into their state is just plain crazy."
And, just to make sure I got the point, he added: "Yesterday we took our kids to Charleston. We went to the Citadel and out to the point where they fired on Fort Sumter in 1861. I'm a 'Damned Yankee.' I believe slavery was evil. But the way our government is acting today, I think I understand why the South seceded."
That's strong stuff from an educated man who took an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic" and served our country in uniform. The April 12-13, 1861 bombardment of Fort Sumter he referred to began the bloodiest confrontation in American history. Academics still debate whether Presidents James Buchanan and his successor, Abraham Lincoln, could have prevented the cataclysm over states rights. Sadly, the Obama administration, by ineptness or design seems intent on enflaming similar disputes through repeated assertions of federal "authority."
Last year, when the government took control of two-thirds of U.S. automobile manufacturing, dozens of banks and major insurance companies, only union "investments" were "protected." Millions of privately held shareholder claims — commonplace in free enterprise — were dismissed with impunity.
Since passage of its widely unpopular national health care legislation, the Obama administration has launched more than a half-dozen legal challenges to states seeking to "opt out" of the federal mandate requiring citizens to purchase government-approved health insurance. The O-Team pledges "vigorous enforcement" and "compliance" measures.
For more than 80 days, the O-Team has over-promised and under-delivered on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The administration has repeatedly rejected, delayed or deferred scores of mitigation proposals made by state and local officials in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Despite objections from Gulf state governors, President Obama has ordered his Department of Justice (DOJ) to fight a U.S. court decision reversing his arbitrary moratorium on offshore oil and natural gas exploration.
The federal lawsuit filed this week against Arizona's "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act" — the mainstream media call it "SB 1070" — is the latest affront to the 10th Amendment. The Obama DOJ claims that the law, passed by the Arizona Legislature and signed by Governor Jan Brewer is unconstitutional because it "preempts" federal responsibility in enforcing immigration laws.
In its 25-page legal brief — nine pages longer than SB 1070 — the administration asserts that the Arizona law "exceeds a state's role with respect to aliens, interferes with the federal government's balanced administration of the immigration laws and critically undermines U.S. foreign policy objectives." Attorney General Eric Holder, in a surreal statement defending the lawsuit, said "Arizonans are understandably frustrated with illegal immigration and the federal government has a responsibility to comprehensively address those concerns."
That of course is the issue. The federal government isn't fulfilling its responsibilities to the people of Arizona or the rest of us. Violent crime against American citizens by illegal aliens continues to climb. Drug cartels are shipping millions of pound of illegal drugs across our southern borders. Reports of terror organizations using illicit traffickers' crossing points and methods are on the rise.
The 1,200 National Guard troops promised by Obama to help secure our southern border — a fraction of the 6,000 requested — have yet to arrive. Although the president repeatedly calls for new "stimulus spending" on "shovel-ready projects," work on the "border fence" has all but halted. And despite the Obama administration's willingness to use federal courts to impose its will, the DOJ has taken no action to enforce laws already on the books against any of the 31 U.S. municipalities that are self-declared "sanctuary cities" for illegal immigrants.
A federal judge in Phoenix will now resolve much more than the outcome of an Arizona law. She will also determine whether our sovereign borders still matter. Hopefully she will also decide that surrender is not an option.
— Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of "War Stories" on Fox News Channel and the author of "American Heroes."
Lt. Col. Oliver L. North (ret.) serves as host of the Fox News Channel documentary series "War Stories with Oliver North." From 1983 to 1986, he served as the U.S. government's counterterrorism coordinator on the National Security Council staff. "Counterfeit Lies," is his novel about how Iran is acquiring nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them. Click here for more information on Oliver North.