Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Great One-Sided Immigration Debate

Here's this week's column. I was paired up, under a "The Immigration Debate" header, with a column from Cong. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), entitled "Complex issue requires leaders like Kyl, McCain." You can feel the yawn. My suggested headline for my piece was "I'm Happy to Watch You and Him Fight," which I think captures it better than what actually ran (not being big on footwear jokes), but it didn't match the "other" side of the headline pairing. For the entire "Lack of Perspective" section, the Tribune didn't find anybody who actually opposed the bill for their roundup. We now know where the libertarians are shaking out on this one!

East Valley Tribune, May 27, 2007

Notice how Sen. Jon Kyl says one thing to get elected, but once in office, does something else -- and justifies his flip-flop by saying, well, it could have been worse?

In his first Senate election, he slammed his opponent (me -- like you didn’t remember) for daring to consider means-testing Social Security. Then once in office, he did nothing when George W. Bush wanted to impose means-testing-on-steroids.

This past fall, he slammed opponent Jim Pederson for proposing immigration reform that would have provided a path to citizenship for illegal aliens. Kyl used much of his $15 million in TV ads to shout that nobody should support immigration reform that provided for amnesty for 12 million lawbreakers.

However, "nobody" meant "nobody until Kyl himself six months later," when he negotiated and co-sponsored a bill that provides a path to citizenship for those 12 million. Oh, there are lots of cumbersome and pointless payments, trips, and paperwork, but the result’s a path to citizenship for those currently here illegally that so outraged Candidate Kyl are in the legislation sponsored by his evil twin, Incumbent Kyl.

This is probably a good idea, but it’s one that he vigorously campaigned against to get reelected, only to switch gears after the election. And, he claims, people who voted for Candidate Kyl’s stand should be grateful to Incumbent Kyl, because if he hadn’t flip-flopped, the legislation, which includes a path to citizenship for those 12 million illegals, would have included a path to citizenship for those 12 million illegals. Got that?

Meanwhile, we’re discovering that almost anybody can discuss immigration policy with our senior senator, John McCain, R-National Media; all it takes is working knowledge of four-letter words. McCain’s never met a problem that he thinks can’t be solved by using military force, so he’s "F-bombing" anyone who disagrees with his immigration plan, including his colleague, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

But you don’t need me if you really want over-the-top attacks on our state’s U.S. Senators. You can get your fill of anti-Kyl-and-McCain rhetoric from an unlikely source, state GOP party chair Randy Pullen. As blogger Ted Prezelski noted, last month Pullen issued a press release attacking Democrats for not getting behind President Bush’s proposals for immigration and border control. This month, he’s attacking President Bush’s proposals for immigration and border control, negotiated by this state’s two GOP senators, in press releases and on cable TV.

Note to talk-show bookers: Why bother having a Democrat attack Republicans on TV when you can get a Republican to do it?

Actually, you might have to get a Republican to do the attacking; Democrats are taking a wait-and-see approach on what legislation actually emerges, and meantime, we’re happy to hold GOP coats while they fight each other. Most Democrats sense that no immigration bill could be as big a fiasco as the Iraq war, so we’ll face our disasters one at a time, thank you very much.

Meanwhile, there’s a lot of idle pundit chatter about what the immigration bill means for the 2008 presidential race. One common thought is that McCain will benefit if the immigration bill passes, and even if it loses, he’ll gain from having shown "leadership."

Pundits and people both love politicians who take brave stands against public opinion -- but only when they agree with that brave stand. If a politician ignores the polls to take a position with which they disagree, like by opposing the Iraq invasion in 2002, the politician is a kook (e.g., Al Gore, Howard Dean). So today you have the wonderfully ironic sight of pundits who support aggressive U.S. foreign policy on the grounds that we’ll promote democracy and democracies don’t start wars simultaneously saluting the "bravery" of politicians who support our doomed Iraq war despite large public majorities wanting a timetable for withdrawal. Democracy is great if the majority agrees with me.

Hey, don’t take my word for it, ask Randy Pullen, who believes that everybody needs to support President Bush -- except when Randy doesn’t agree with him.

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