Jason Chaffetz has made his choice.
The former Utah congressman has not just taken a break from a career as a media-savvy and slightly wonkish politician, someone who might reasonably have aspired to the U.S. Senate and/or the Utah governor’s office. He has left public service, burned his bridges behind him, and gone completely over to the Dark Side of American culture.
His political career should be over.
A couple of weeks ago, it was possible that Chaffetz, like others in public life (or in sports), might just be taking one of those trips through the revolving door, moving away from the arena and into the relatively comfortable business of commentary. It is a chance to make some money, burnish a personal brand and bide one’s time until such time as a return to elective or appointive politics might be offered and attractive. Nothing nefarious about it.
But last week, Chaffetz crossed the Rubicon. Instead of having a future as a political leader, he decided that he will cast his lot with the cruelly xenophobic part of our culture that has turned its back on American history and common decency.
In an appearance on Fox News, the pseudo-journalistic hype machine of false news and fear, he displayed an incredibly cold heart in trying to absolve the government of any responsibility for the death of a 7-year-old girl who died in federal custody.
“She should have never, ever made that journey," Chaffetz said. "That should be the message. Don’t make this journey. It will kill you.”
Jackeline Caal left behind a bereaved family and an unfulfilled dream to take advantage of American law, international norms and human dignity by seeking asylum as a refugee from her war-torn native land of Guatemala.
Jackeline’s family has been quoted as saying that border agents and EMTs did what they could to save their child after she fell ill, reviving her twice and airlifting her to a Texas hospital, where she nevertheless died of dehydration and exhaustion. But the fact that the administration continues to view these desperate souls as an invasion of disease-carrying zombies has left a situation where no one is taking proper care to receive refugees with enough officers, judges, attorneys, social workers and, as the American Academy of Pediatrics has warned, doctors to handle the influx.
The president and his toadies were happy to warn the nation of what they called an approaching “caravan” of refugees, so they knew they were coming. But instead of mobilizing the necessary resources to handle the matter humanely, our government has been resolutely unable and unwilling to provide the necessary aid and comfort that should be the norm for any great nation, especially one created and built by refugees.
It is pitiful that one of our major political parties has completely abandoned the great values of America. One wonders if they would even accept the Statue of Liberty as a gift, as an icon of America’s hope for the world.
Jason Chaffetz has sold that belief in America for a chance at TV stardom. He has made his choice.
The rest of us must make a different one.