Immigration


The Boston Globe ran an article yesterday about John McCain’s consistency on controversial immigration legislation. According to the Globe, “And he may never be the Republican presidential nominee, either. That could be the price of standing for what he believes in.”

A related Boston Globe article today on McCain’s positions on immigration reform commented

“He [McCain] also said the nature of the debate over immigration reflected the ‘deterioration of the political discourse in America today.’

One of the toughest amendments, McCain said, is one that would require illegal immigrants to return to their home country before  applying for a ‘Z visa,’ which the bill would create to allow them to legally work in the United States.

…McCain said conservatives who want to focus exclusively on securing America’s borders are missing a major part of the problem: that 40 percent of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States are here because they overstayed their visas, not because they entered the country illegally.

As he did in 2000, McCain has staked his candidacy in part on his authenticity, often saying that it’s more important to him to do what is right than to win an election. His support for overhauling immigration laws is hampering his outreach to conservatives, and his outspoken support for the war in Iraq appears to be pushing independents away from him.”

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John McCain has been upping the anti on his Mitt Romney attacks, accusing the former Massachusetts governor of pandering to voters on his immigration stances. According to the New York Times, “And [McCain’s] his campaign has taken to pointing out what it calls Mr. Romney’s shifting stances on immigration, and his lack of specificity on any workable alternative….

Mr. McCain plans to say [in a speech]. “’And I would hope they [any presidential candidate] wouldn’t play politics for their own interests if the cost of their ambition was to make this problem even harder to solve. To want the office so badly that you would intentionally make our country’s problems worse might prove you can read a poll or take a cheap shot, but it hardly demonstrates presidential leadership.’

‘Pandering for votes on this issue, while offering no solution to the problem, amounts to doing nothing,’ Mr. McCain plans to say. ‘And doing nothing is silent amnesty.'”

According to the New York Times, “Last month in South Carolina, home to the type of social conservatives Romney is courting, he said, ‘I think we should not call it the ‘Z’ visa; we should call it the ‘A’ visa, because it’s amnesty and that’s what it stands for.'” (A z-visa is a proposed document that would register the roughly 12 million illegal aliens in the US.)

“Yet a week later in Florida, he said, ‘There are some who get involved in whether it is technically amnesty or not and I’m not really trying to define what is technically amnesty. I’ll let the lawyers do that.'”

The New York Times ran an article yesterday about the importance of authenticity in this year’s presidential race. The Times writes,

“Democrats cast themselves as courageous truth-tellers in their presidential debate Sunday night. Republicans debating Tuesday night might make the same claim. But if recent history is a guide, both fields will be bereft of authentic authenticity…

‘I think we’re living in a post-Bush world where authenticity is going to rule the day,’ said Republican strategist Scott Reed, who ran Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign. ”Everybody has had it with the whistling, don’t-worry-be-happy song and is looking for some real straight talk and some authenticity. Actions have consequences.”

John McCain learned that lesson. Some of his own advisers say the Arizona senator damaged his straight-talking image by bending over backward to appease conservative interests groups that dominate the GOP nomination fight.”

The AP ran a story today about John McCain’s recent criticism of Mitt Romney’s immigration policy.

“Republican John McCain accused presidential rival Mitt Romney of flip-flopping on immigration Monday and said with sarcasm: ‘Maybe his solution will be to get out his small varmint gun and drive those Guatemalans off his lawn.'”

Immigrant March Milwaukee 4.1.06(AP Photo) 

Yesterday’s New York Times featured a staff editorial chastising what they, as part of America’s sizable minority that supports open borders, regard as shameless political obstructionism by Republicans as many increasingly distance themselves from politically toxic policies that smack of amnesty.

‘The fakery is hard to watch, as it comes at a time when courage and bipartisan realism are critically important. The Iowa maunderings of two candidates in particular — Senators Sam Brownback and John McCain — have complicated the prospects of a bipartisan immigration bill that would affect millions of lives. While its fate is being decided in difficult closed-door negotiations in the Capitol, they and other G.O.P. hopefuls are on the stump, tying themselves in knots over “amnesty” and dancing farther out to the fringes of public opinion.’

Courage and Bipartisan realism” are values that are thoroughly in the eye of the beholder, though, and there are multitudes of non-New York Times-reading Americans who think true courage and realism involves taking politically incorrect stands on a sensitive issue — many of whom will be voting in the crucial bellwether primaries that will determine the Republican candidates’ fates.  And “the fringes of public opinion” are debatable as well, with poll results varying dramatically between polls with different frames and rhetoric embedded into the questions.

Still, the New York Times serves up a vituperative assault on Republican candidates’ varying flip-flops and changes of frame with this issue:

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Giuliani 

At The New York Times’ select website, there’s an article (which will not be accessible unless you’re a paid subscriber) entitled “A Right Turn On The Road to Giuliani ’08.”  I can’t quote it too extensively because, well, the Times is charging for it because they’re a business.  With newspaper circulation continuing to decline, it’s hard to judge them too severely for that.  Anyway, it sharply criticizes Rudy Giuliani for what the author views as flip-flops on abortion choice, gun control, and especially immigration:

‘As mayor, Mr. Giuliani ordered that [illegal immigrants] not be denied city services like schools and hospitals.  He insisted that city workers not serve, in effect, as immigration agents.  His policies swam against the national Republican tide. […]

 ‘Where he once spoke firmly about tending even to illegal immigrants, he now puts more stress on penalizing them.  Where he once talked about their contributions, he now urges tougher border controls.  Where he once forbade his police force to ask a person’s immigration status, he now wants illegal immigrants to be issued identity cards. […]

‘”It is post-9/11,” [Ms. Oltarsh-McCarthy] said.  “But it seems to me that inherent in that assumption is that immigrants are potential criminals.  He never before spoke of immigrants as criminals.  It scares me that he would move to a place where people are demonized like this.  He was steadfastly against the idea of people having to carry ID cards.  He saw is as un-American.” […]

‘The flip-flop accusation, hardly a plus for any candidate, is especially important in Mr. Giuliani’s case because he presents himself as a singular anchor of principle, not someone who bends in the political winds.

 ‘Yet bend he seems to have done.  As mayor, he was fully for abortion rights.  As a presidential candidate, he says he would appoint “strict constructionists” to the Supreme Court — code, to many, for undermining Roe v. Wade.

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