No, GOP, The White House Fence is Not the Same as Trump’s Wall

Fox News not only helped create the atmosphere of hate that made Trump possible, but the simplistic thinking that makes the Trump campaign tick like the dystopian clockwork marvel that it is.

For example, yesterday, Tucker Carlson of Fox & Friends, seemingly intent on demonstrating that Elizabeth Hasselbeck, who once compared NFL scandals with Benghazi, need not be missed, equated the fence around the White House with Trump’s Wall.

Because they’re somehow the same thing.

Watch this astonishing argument unfold courtesy of Media Matters for America:

BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): But when it came to building the wall, did Mexico agree to pay for it?
 
TUCKER CARLSON (CO-HOST): No. Of course not. Here’s a tweet from the president of Mexico. “At the beginning of the conversation with Donald Trump, I made clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall.” Yeah. Whatever. I mean, you know who just built a big, beautiful wall with above and below ground sensors? President Obama, around the White House. You know why he did that? Because he cares about his family. Good for him, I get it.
 
KILMEADE: Right.
 
CARLSON: But that is a big beautiful wall that you just paid for, and I noticed that no one on Morning Joe is scoffing at that wall. Are they?
 
KILMEADE: I don’t even know. Is that show still on?
 
CARLSON: I’m just saying every sophisticated person is like, “Oh the wall.” Except when Obama builds it, “yeah that’s cool.”

White House fence jumping poses a threat not only to the Obama family but to the President of the United States – whoever might occupy that office – a point Carlson seems to miss. We don’t want our presidents assassinated. The White House was built in an era when there was no Secret Service and anyone could walk in off the street.

We have been playing catch-up ever since. Not surprisingly, Trump has mocked plans to raise the White House fence, taking to Facebook in April to write, “President Obama understands that you build strong, tall, beautiful walls to keep people out who don’t belong.”

To say the least, the White House is a bit exposed, and anyone who gets over the fence is a potential threat to the president’s safety. Despite Trump’s oft-heard claims, the same cannot be said of everyone who crosses the border into the United States.

In 2015, spikes were added to the fence, what are called in bureaucratic speak, a “removable anti-climb feature.” Early in 2016 the Secret Service proposed raising the 6′ tall White House fence to 11 feet and provide it with a concrete foundation.

And yes, the plans included sensors. Carlson’s claims – and Trump’s promises aside – DHS border strategy already includes “sensors, drones and other technology.”

Through all this, what has been proven is that if people want to get over the White House fence, they get over it. Rather than demonstrating the efficacy of fixed fortifications, all the White House fences’s woes have demonstrated is that they don’t work.

The White House grounds encompass a flat and very visible 18 acres. The proposed wall along the Mexican border – some 2,000 miles in length – is anything but flat and visible. There are rivers. There are deserts. There are mountains.

A fence around the White House is nothing like a wall along the Mexican border. Not in any conceivable respect.

When conservatives complain (and they do) that a White House that opposes Trump’s wall should not be improving White House security by raising or improving the fence, and accuse Obama of hypocrisy, it only exposes the weakness of right wing arguments – and knowledge of – the subject.

Carlson, and many other Republicans, have apparently missed that critical Sesame Street life lesson that “one of these things is not like the other.” Perhaps it should be made required viewing by Republicans, and the Trump campaign in particular.

We have a term for it in philosophy – the fallacy of false equivalence. But I suspect Sesame Street will be more easily understood by somebody who speaks to his audiences at a third or fourth grade level, and by those audiences. Tucker Carlson included, for whom fences are “cool.”

Photo: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza