López Obrador’s position is what you would expect: strong and intense. His intervention positions him in a public clash, but not with the U.S. government.
It’s a discussion that never should have happened, at least not at the level it has. It’s a fight between politicians with their attention focused on their own domestic audiences, no matter how much it may appear to be an exchange.
And it doesn’t help resolve things or clarify the situation, because criticism of the Mexican government’s dealings with fentanyl is largely an indirect way for Republican politicians to attack President Joe Biden and the Democrats’ “weakness.”
The “debate” between President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Rep. Dan Crenshaw, with Sen. Lindsay Graham chiming in, casts one as a courageous defender of the homeland — from a podium — and the others as public servants concerned for the welfare of their constituents.
But López Obrador gave Crenshaw and Graham a status they don’t have: He put them at a level of a head of state. Crenshaw, an elected representative of a district with between 600,000 and 700,000 constituents, could be or is a legislator on the rise who has just found himself a spectacular political bonanza.
But he is one of 435 members of Congress. Graham is a South Carolina senator who is always ready to make a name for himself. Crenshaw’s reelection campaign next year could well revolve around his “debate” with López Obrador: Not only did he question the president on Mexico’s drug trafficking problems, but he also reproached him for “condoning” criminal activity.
Beyond what could be considered a real interest in the health of his constituents, Crenshaw is a politician seeking publicity and taking advantage of the issue to position himself both as a strong nationalist standing up to the foreign narco “attacker” and as a spokesperson for the 2024 Republican campaign agenda.
President López Obrador’s position is one you would expect: strong and intense. His intervention brings puts him at public odds not with the U.S. government, with which he has had his own run-ins, but with the current administration’s opposition, the Republicans. However, he continues to address his own public, more in an effort to gain their support in the face of outside criticism than to clarify U.S. perceptions.
By style or through lack of advice and analysis, AMLO was left open to appear in the 2024 U.S. political election campaign as one of the Republicans’ favorite international villains, not on the level of Russia’s Vladimir Putin or China’s Xi Jinping, but certainly up there, especially by those in border regions or those that feel most affected by fentanyl.
True to his style, from the beginning, López Obrador has been at the forefront of the national response to political attacks from a section of the Republican Party that is now convinced it has hit a nerve with both Mexico and the Biden administration. It will probably keep up the attack intermittently for the next 20 months until the presidential election and perhaps beyond.