posted by Damozel | Man, I'm not even going to bother here with the candidates who get to sit at the Rock Starz Table; their views are all over the place. Clearly, the media have decided for the rest of us which candidates' opinions we need to consider. Hillary Hillary Hillary Edwards Hillary Obama Obama Obama Obama Edwards Edwards Edwards Richardson Gravel Other-People-They-Don't-Think-We-Care-To-Hear-From Hillary Hillary Hillary Obama Obama Obama Edwards Edwards HILLARY.
Is it January already? But of course: "rock stars." Your own words, Bill. And I like all the so-called "first tier" candidates, but it's a bit previous to be writing anyone off or out, according to me. Here's what the two-page report of the debate in The Washington Post has to say about Bill Richardson:
"Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico emphasized his experience at the state level, saying that as chief executive he had achieved results on health care and learned firsthand about the issues involved in immigration. Dodd, by contrast, emphasized his more than two decades in the Senate." [Democrats Focus on Iraq in Contentious Second Debate, The Washington Post by Anne Kornblut and Dan Balz.]
So I am going to take this opportunity to applaud...
Richardson for taking a politically risky stand on immigration and particularly on the border fence idea. I think his position is interesting because he IS the sole Hispanic candidate; he IS governor of a state which has had serious problems on the border; and he IS dealing with an argument that's as much over its own subtext as about the steps we should take to reform immigration.
RICHARDSON ON BUSH'S IMMIGRATION COMPROMISE. As people who follow his career with interest know, he has reversed his earlier support for Bush's immigration bill. I am all in favor of politicians doing this when they decide they were, you know, wrong, rather than stubbornly defending the wrong view, like certain senators and presidents I could mention. From last week's New York Times:
"Mr. Richardson initially said he would support the immigration compromise announced earlier this week. But on Wednesday, he said that after reading it in detail, he had decided to oppose it, saying the measure placed too great a burden on immigrants — tearing apart families that wanted to settle in the United States, creating a permanent tier of second-class immigrant workers and financing a border fence that Mr. Richardson had long opposed." Hispanic Hopeful for ’08 Confronts Immigration, The New York Times by Adam Nagorney (24 May 2007).
Richardson pointed out that while we need bipartisan cooperation on any immigration bill, "we also need legislation that is compassionate. I’m not sure that this is.”" Id. Here's what he said to Tim Russert on Meet the Press about his reasons for changing his mind.
I was announcing for president, and the day before, I saw a summary of a bill that had been proposed in the Senate. And the summary, I believed, contained essential elements of a comprehensive immigration reform bill. One, that there be tougher border security, doubling of border patrol agents. That’s good. And two, a legalization program for the 12 million that are here. Three, it also contained penalties for employers that knowingly hired illegal workers. I thought that was all good. The bill is then presented, and I read it the next day, and it contained some problems.
Now, I praise the Congress and the president for, in a bipartisan way, putting something forward that is a good start. But the problem, Tim—look, I deal with this issue every day.
I’m a border governor. Two years ago, I declared a border emergency in New Mexico because the flow of people and drugs were harming New Mexico. So I have strong qualifications on this issue. I’ve been dealing it—with it for years.
The problem with the immigration bill, the way I read it now, Tim, is one, it separates families. It gives—it gives too much credence to job skills rather than families. The essence of all our immigration laws have been to preserve families, and this separates families. Secondly, a guest worker program. The guest worker program, first posting, should be to protect American workers to have the, the top job, to, to have the jobs and not the guest workers. There are no labor protections for those guest workers. And then third, what I also saw in the bill that was not reported in the summaries is that it’s good to have more border guards, and we have to double them, and there’s been a problem because the federal government has not trained enough to make that happen.
Meet the Press Transcript for 27 May 2007, MSNBC.com.
[Why, oh why, is there meant to be something shameful about so-called "flip-flopping"? What intelligent person doesn't change positions in the face of new data? I flip flop all the time, whenever I realize that I made a decision without having all the data? Why make excuses? Why not just say, "Based on the data I had at the time, this is what I believed in good faith at the time" and then ask the question: "Are you saying that I shouldn't have changed position once I had these additional facts?" But instead, they feel they have to explain. Don't explain. "Did you flip flop on this issue?" "Yes. I changed my mind based on information not available to me at the time." "So you're saying you flip-flopped?" "Exactly." JUST OWN IT AND LEAVE IT. Let Arnold Schwarzeneggar be an example to you. And I'm saying this with sorrow because of the number of times during the interview Richardson seemed to be backing and filling---enough so that some people are already writing him off for this round..]
Right, getting back to the issue: I am glad to see the only Latino candidate stand up for what he views as the compassionate position, rather than the politically expedient one one. Clearly there are risks in doing so. Hispanic Hopeful for ’08 Confronts Immigration, supra.
Mr. Richardson said he did not want to be pigeonholed as the immigration candidate, but the moment is forcing him to take a stand on a volatile issue that carries major risks for all the presidential candidates.....Mr. Richardson risks identifying his candidacy with the efforts in Congress to ease strictures against immigrants who are in this country illegally, exposing himself to the strong anti-immigration currents that have been unleashed by this battle.
He is the first major Democrat to call explicitly for defeat of the bill in its current form, a decision that he said would no doubt echo across the presidential playing field and in Washington. And his is a voice that carries particular weight: he grew up in Mexico, but went on to became a state governor who once declared a state of emergency in response to turmoil and violence on the border caused by illegal immigrants. Hispanic Hopeful for ’08 Confronts Immigration, supra.
On the other hand, he is perhaps more attuned than certain other candidates to the fact that the current discourse is being heard and understood by many Hispanics who are not Mexican themselves, but who might well feel lumped together with them in the current calls for stopping the flow of "third world cultures" (see discussion below) into the U.S. He noted that trying to outdo one another in anti-immigrant rhetoric ""is not going to help them in a general election: It might help them in a primary.”"Hispanic Hopeful for ’08 Confronts Immigration, supra.
THE POROUS/PERMEABLE/LEAKY/SEEPY BORDER PROBLEM. As governor of New Mexico, Richardson has had first-hand experience in dealing with the effects what I'll call the "penetrability" of the Mexican border. Two years ago he declared a state of emergency in New Mexico, stating that four counties had been "devastated" by the "he ravages and terror of human smuggling, drug smuggling, kidnapping, murder, destruction of property and the death of livestock. ..." Border emergency declared in New Mexico, CNN.com (13 August 2005). While the other candidates talk about the problems controlling the border, Richardson has actually had to deal with the problem of controlling it.
Richardson pledged an additional $1 million in assistance for the area, his office said in a news release.
He said on CNN that the funds will be used to hire additional law enforcement personnel and pay officers overtime.
In announcing the state of emergency, Richardson -- a Democrat who served in President Clinton's Cabinet -- criticized the "total inaction and lack of resources from the federal government and Congress" in helping protect his state's residents along the border.
"There's very little response from the Border Patrol," he said on CNN. "They're doing a good job, but they don't have the resources."...
He said on CNN that he "saw the trails where these illegal routes take place" as well as fenced areas along the border where the fence is "literally nonexistent." Border emergency declared in New Mexico, CNN.com (13 August 2005).
THE GREAT WALL OF THE TWO AMERICAS. Richardson believes that a giant border fence, separating all things North American from all things that are not, isn't going to work. Richardson: Border Wall "A Big Mistake", Miami Herald.com by Beth Reinhard and Lesley Clark (29 Tuesday 2007). "''Yes, improve border security, but I believe this wall is a big mistake,'' he said. ``It would be a terrible symbol, and it would be ineffective.''" Id. On Meet the Press, he told Tim Russert that the San Diego Border Fence doesn't work.
But the fence, the fence, the wall between Mexico and the United States, there’s more funding for it. This wall is wrong. This wall is a terrible symbol between two countries that are friends. And you’re going to have a 10-foot wall, and what’s going to happen is there’s going to be 11-foot ladders going over that wall construct...
MR. RUSSERT: The wall hasn’t worked?
GOV. RICHARDSON: No, it hasn’t worked.
MR. RUSSERT: Anywhere along the border, the fence hasn’t worked.
GOV. RICHARDSON: It hasn’t worked. What has worked is more border patrols. What has worked is some National Guardsmen. What has worked is some technology. It’s made the program better. But, Tim, we got to talk to Mexico, our friend, get them to do more. In fact, get them to stop giving max—maps to illegal workers on the most porous areas to court. And we also need to raise the legal immigration limits, the backlogs of workers that we need—Europeans, others that—Indians, H1B visas for job competitiveness skills.
Meet the Press Transcript for 27 May 2007, MSNBC.com. For a contrary view, with statistics, see Richardson Lies About Border Fence, AmericanPatrol.com (27 May 2007) ("The fence does work and Richardson is exposed as an open-borders, pro-Mexican Reconquista.")(links in original).
In fact, one of the ways that Richardson dealt with the New Mexico emergency was by talking Mexican officials. I will admit that my Quakerish leanings perhaps give me an exaggerated respect for the powers of friendly persuasion, i.e., diplomacy.
But this is one thing I do know: my faith in the magical powers of engineers has definitely suffered a blow following Katrina and what we're hearing now about the state of the levees.. In New Orleans, it seems they've rebuilt the levees so that they can withstand "at most a weak" Category 3 hurricane. Levee Fixes Falling Short, Experts Warn, The Washington Post by Joby Warrick (6 March 2007). "Almost a year ago the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers declared that it had restored New Orleans' levees and floodwalls to pre-Hurricane Katrina strength. But the system is actually riddled with flaws, and a storm even weaker than Katrina could breach the levees if it hit this year, say leading experts who have investigated the system...The corps says that New Orleans' flood defenses are a work in progress. New Orleans' Rebuilt Levees "Riddled With Flaws," National Geographic News (6 May 2007). Which is all very well, so long as it's ready to roll now that the hurricane season is all set to begin. The thing about a 700 mile long fence can't be a work in progress; it's got to work all down the line all the time to be effective. It's got to be built to resist human ingenuity and desperation and patrolled all along for the same reason. Can that even be done?
Right: I'm not an engineer. Maybe it could work. Ironically, Nick is watching a documentary on Hadrian's Wall even as I sit here typing, and it seems to have worked for awhile. On the other hand, Hadrian's Wall was a long time ago, and the Picts didn't have access to modern technology or other methods available to those who really want to get through. Maybe the government will fund trucks to drive up and down along the fence, making daily repairs every day, or maybe volunteers will do the work. Maybe it will fund border patrols to deal with the "11 foot ladders" to which Richardson refers. Maybe it will stop some of the illegals from getting through, over, under, around. Is that a sufficient reason for building it?
How do we look to the world when it's in place? How do we look to ourselves? We're building a wall to separate the two hemispheres to keep the Spanish speakers out?
I guess for people who support the measure, the answer is, "Well, we look okay to me. Why?" But I agree with Governor Richardson that it will stand as "a terrible symbol," not only of our fears but of our inability to deal with them in a principled, rational fashion. I certainly think that the politicians in Washington should pay attention to the suggestions of one of the governors who has actually addressed the the issue and who believes that there are better, less mad (this is me talking, not Governor Richardson) solutions.
THE REAL PROBLEM: "WAY TOO MUCH OF YOU." It seems to me that one of the reason this bill is such a hot topic is that the discussion mixes up---often without acknowledging it---both the problem of illegal immigration and issues that Americans have with the increasing Latino presence in the United States. Somewhere in the middle of all that is an assumption that if we can keep the ones who get here illegally out, we will slow down the immigration of Latinos to a trickle because, I guess, people who think we have quite enough of them, thank you, aren't aware just how dependent certain industries are---and will continue to be---dependent on immigrants for labor.
All this reminded me sharply of a passage in Republican pundit P.J. O'Rourke's 1994 book All the Trouble in the World. The passage in question is included in a chapter called "Overpopulation (Just Enough of Me, Way Too Much of You). O'Rourke---a rightward-tilting pundit of whose writings I am inordinately, shamelessly fond---is criticizing "progressives" (the quotes are his) for their concern with overpopulation, which he suggests is really an expression of thinly veiled racism. He wrote:
This leaves us with the question of what people mean when they say the earth is overpopulated. What these concerned citizens usually mean is that they've seen a whole bunch of the earth's very ordinary people up real close, and the concerned citizens didn't like what they saw one bit........Especially if these people happen to be not-quite white.... Fretting about overpopulation is a perfectly guilt-free---indeed sanctimonious---way for "progressives" to be racists. Time magazine, in a 1990 article titled "Beyond the Melting Pot"...began paragraph one with "Someday soon....white Americans will become a minority group. And paragraph two said, "If current trends in immigration and birth rates persist, the Hispanic population will have further increased an estimated 21%...blacks almost 12% and whites a little more than 2% when the 20th century ends." ..."History suggests that sustaining a truly multiracial society is difficult, or at least unusual claimed Time. The Babylonian Empire? The Persian Empire? The Indian Empire? The various empires resulting from the conquests of Alexander the Great? (He insisted that his officers married foreign women.) The Roman Empire?...."A truly multiracial society will undoubtedly prove much harder to govern," said Time. As opposed to multiracial societies such as Somalia.
The idea that too many people exist leads to unfortunate and even lethal plans for those people....
All the Trouble in the World by P.J. O'Rourke 60-62 (The Atlantic Monthly Press 1994).
And though I know that O'Rourke was talking about overpopulation and not immigration, and that he was taking a whack at progressives whereas the issue I'm addressing seems to reflect the anxieties of conservatives, it seems to me that the same sort of thinking is working beneath the surface here.
Consider this passage from a recent article by Pat Buchanan:.
According to the Census Bureau, from mid-2005 to mid-2006, the U.S. minority population rose 2.4 million, to exceed 100 million. Hispanics, 1 percent of the population in 1950, are now 14.4 percent. Their total number has soared 25 percent since 2000 alone. The Asian population has also grown by 25 percent since 2000.
The number of white kids of school age fell 4 percent, however. Half the children 5 and younger in the United States are now minorities.
What is happening to us? An immigrant invasion of the United States from the Third World, as America's white majority is no longer even reproducing itself. Since Roe v. Wade, America has aborted 45 million of her children. And Asia, Africa and Latin America have sent 45 million of their children to inherit the estate the aborted American children never saw. God is not mocked....
And white America is in flight...Today's immigrants exceed in number anything any nation has ever known. They now come from cultures and countries whose people have never before been assimilated by any First World country. Not only is the Melting Pot broken, it is rejected by our elites. Minorities are urged to hold onto their own language, customs, traditions. Identity politics is in. And the largest cohort, Mexicans, comes from a country with a historic grievance and a claim on the territory they are entering..
Path to National Suicide by Patrick L. Buchanan, Human Events.Com (22 May 2007); cf.Pat Buchanan Defends Controversial Immigration Comments, Fox News (23 August 2006).
I find this argument to be far more shocking and offensive than Bill O'Reilly's recent fretting over the threat to "the white male power structure" and the Republican party. Buchanan implies that Mexican immigration is punishment from God. At Poliblog, political science professor Dr. Steven Taylor writes: "The notion that the waves of darker hued persons swarming into America to overtake the Whites is somehow God’s punishment should be offensive to Christians–as if Mexicans coming across the border seeking work should be likened to some Biblical plague of locusts." Buchanan and "White America," Poliblog by Dr. Steven Taylor (2 June 2007).
Lou Dobbs has of course been leading the charge against uncontrolled illegal immigration for some time now. In 2005, he wrote:
South of that border is a corrupt and ineffective government run by President Vicente Fox, who has no apparent incentive to control the flow of drugs being shipped from Mexico into the United States and every incentive to continue the exportation of illegal aliens into this country. This year, in fact, remittances back to Mexico from the estimated 20 million Mexican citizens living in the United States, most of them illegally, surpassed oil as Mexico's No. 1 source of foreign revenue.
In the United States, an obscene alliance of corporate supremacists, desperate labor unions, certain ethnocentric Latino activist organizations and a majority of our elected officials in Washington works diligently to keep our borders open, wages suppressed and the American people all but helpless to resist the crushing financial and economic burden created by the millions of illegal aliens who crash our borders each year....
U.S. Policy on Immigration is a Tragic Joke, The Arizona Republic by Lou Dobbs (28 August 2005).
With respect to the new legislation Dobbs wrote:
...President Ronald Reagan signed into law amnesty for more than three million illegal aliens who had entered the country. President Reagan then promised the new employer sanctions would "remove the incentive for illegal immigration by eliminating the job opportunities," and that the law's amnesty provision would allow millions who were hiding in the shadows to "step into the sunlight."
And now, another 21 years later, we hear the same language as the pro-amnesty and open borders advocates demand that American citizens ignore history, reason and the national interest. They are again marketing the same false assurances about border enforcement and insist there will be no social or economic cost to the taxpayer or the nation. More than four decades of disruptive and destructive immigration policy initiatives should be a sufficient history lesson for all Americans.
The essential truth is clear: We cannot reform immigration law until we control immigration, and we cannot control immigration until we control our borders and our ports. This president and the congressional Democratic leadership refuse to recognize that reality and will not honor that truth.
New immigration plan ignores history's lessons, CNN.com by Lou Dobbs (23 May 2007).
ANTI-IMMIGRANT, ANTI-ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION, ANTI-LATINO, OR ANTI-MEXICAN? Listening to people talk about immigration, it's often hard to tell, particularly when extremists on both sides of the debate rush to judgment over what they perceive to be the subtext of a position.
It's certainly the case that people who express concern over illegal immigration sometimes veer off into generalizations that appear to apply to all immigrants, all Latino immigrants, or all Mexicans. Bill Richardson believes---and I believe and most liberals I know believe---that we need to take strong measures to prevent illegal immigration. Bill O'Reilly agrees with this too, as do George Bush and a number of people on both sides of the debate. Our reasons are not the same. I worry, as do a number of liberals, about the exploitation of Mexican workers (which is one reason I don't feel at all comfortable with this "reform bill" or "guest worker" programs). Undocumented workers, however willing they are to work, don't have any protections against exploitation or other social safeguards available to Americans. I can't help thinking it significant that North Carolina (which uses a LOT of immigrant labor) passed in 1983 an antislavery bill to prevent this. North Carolina Passes Anti-Slavery Bill to Aid Farm Migrants, The New York Times (14 July 1983) (archived material) (quoted in pertinent part here).
Bill O'Reilly's concerns, as we know, are different; as are Pat Buchanan's. I believe---others are free to differ---that Lou Dobbs' are different from theirs.
.The ire and stridency is really over the assumptions make about subtext; is the person concerned about illegal immigration or is the real message WE'VE GOT QUITE ENOUGH LATINOS HERE ALREADY, THANKS. The recent protests by immigrants (legal) were a response to this subtext, which of course angered people who are focusing---or who claim to be focusing---on problems arising specifically out of the presence of illegal immigrants.
The equation goes like this: illegal immigrant = person who is willing to enter the country illegally = person who does not respect the law = criminal = person willing to do criminal acts. .In the epic dispute between Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Rivera, O'Reilly was making the "illegals = criminals by nature" argument. Rivera, I think, was offended by what he perceived to be the subtext of some of his previous remarks (and of course O'Reilly subsequently made it clear beyond doubt that the subtext was there), so they ended up arguing at cross purposes.
I don't know what statistics (meaning statistics I might feel comfortable citing) exist to support the view that one reason to keep out illegals is because they tend to be criminals or lacking in any sense of responsibility to society. Whether or not they exist, most people seem to assume that they do.
With respect to immigrants generally, this doesn't seem to be the case. There are studies which show that they are more law abiding than your average American citizen.. Memo to Bill O'Reilly: More immigrants equals less crime, Salon.com by Alex Koppelman (inteview with Harvard's Robert J. Sampson). In the interview, Sampson said:
Immigrants are less likely to be imprisoned relative to their numbers; Latinos, in particular, even though they enter the country being disproportionately poor, which would signal, based on everything else we know, that they would have a high risk for all sorts of negative outcomes, including [poor] health, low-birth-weight babies, incarceration, violence and so forth, [are less likely to be imprisoned]. They are doing rather well in many dimensions, and this has led to what is known in the literature as "the Latino paradox." And the paradox is just that -- even though they are disproportionately poor and have all kinds of risk factors, they are doing better in many dimensions. So that particular finding in our data I think is consistent....
[T]he pool of people that are coming into the country are selected on certain characteristics, such as wanting to get ahead in the United States, and that's associated with working hard, keeping out of trouble, keeping their heads down. Then it's not terribly surprising, if you think about it, that people who are coming here to better their lives would not necessarily be picking up and doing crime right away. It's a selection factor that makes a lot of sense....
[R]elated to it, there's less incentive to commit crime, and greater sanctions, because of course one can be deported, and one doesn't want to draw attention to oneself.
[T]here's a family structure relationship here, in that the immigrants, at least in our data, are much more likely to be in intact families. In Chicago, for example, the Mexican-Americans are more likely to be married even than whites, and family structure is related to the risk of certain outcomes among offspring in our data and [that of other researchers]. So the fact that there are more intact families is, I think, part of the explanation, which of course also points out an irony in the anti-immigrant onslaught from the far right. David Brooks has written about this. If one views family intactness as "family values," then one would be actually in favor of more immigration. That's an interesting irony there.
The blurring of the distinction between legal and illegal makes for some harsh rhetoric and harsher accuations. I think, like Bill Richardson, I'd be pretty disheartened by it if I were Mexican. In response to the recent protests by Mexican activists and to "The Open Borders Lobby", Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) posted a press release which states in pertinent part:
The pro-amnesty groups are insistent on confusing legal and illegal immigration. Let’s not start mixing our apples and oranges. The issue before Congress is illegal immigration. What would that May 1st look like without illegal immigration? There would be no one to smuggle across our southern border the heroin, marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamines that plague the United States, reducing the U.S. supply of meth that day by 80%. The lives of 12 U.S. citizens would be saved who otherwise die a violent death at the hands of murderous illegal aliens each day. Another 13 Americans would survive who are otherwise killed each day by uninsured drunk driving illegals. Our hospital emergency rooms would not be flooded with everything from gunshot wounds, to anchor babies, to imported diseases to hangnails, giving American citizens the day off from standing in line behind illegals. Eight American children would not suffer the horror as a victim of a sex crime.
On the negative side, the price of a pound of tomatoes might go up from $0.79 to $0.80. That is unless you have a garden....
Biting the Hand that Feeds You, News Center: Press Release, Representative Steve King (5th Congressional District, Iowa).
He specifically states that he is talking about illegal aliens. His statistics presumably apply only to them. You be the judge: would you be offended by this press release (and you'd need to read the whole thing) or not, and if so, why?
So much of the argument over illegal immigration seems really to be about immigration, and specificlaly about immigration from South of the border. And sometimes the anti-Mexican/anti-Latino/anti-immigrant subtext really is there.
As Richardson is aware. "He said he had to speak out against what he suggested was an anti-immigrant fervor, be it from television news hosts like Lou Dobbs or Republican candidates for president.“I was just very disheartened by all the Republican candidates at the debates,” he said. “They were trying to overtake each other over who could be the most anti-immigrant."" Hispanic Hopeful for ’08 Confronts Immigration, supra. You can see how he might be, particularly when you add in rhetoric such as the above.
RICHARDSON'S SOLUTION. He discussed his plan in the Russert interview here. You can watch or re-watch the Russert interview here. I don't think his explication was brilliant, or even close to being as good as it needs to be, because I don't think the nuances really came through. Richardson is really going to have to work on breaking down his arguments into modules or something so that he can deal with each piece---and the questions about it---as separate issues without clouding the overall context. His arguments all make sense if you know the context, but unfortunately these shows don't really focus on setting up the context; they focus on the pieces rather than the whole.
A good example is his having to explain why his plan doesn't grant amnesty; and the reason is that what he proposes doing it isn't literally "amnesty" if you use it to mean what it actually means. But in the sense in which it's being used in the immigration debate, what he's talking about might be described as a qualifed or limited or conditional amnesty (i.e., not literal amnesty). I freaking HATE these arguments over labels and semantics, and interviews that try to trap someone into making some sort of "forbidden" concession (flip flop; amnesty). I am just praying for a candidate some day who will just laugh and say, "Why yes, so I am" when someone says "Are you talking about...the "A" word?" I don't think you gain anything by buying into the assumption that there is something inherently wrong with a particular idea. But I'm not a political consultant, you see; I just hate excuses, defensiveness, explanations, and so forth, and there was a bit too much of that happening in the MTP thing.
One thing Tim Russert seemed to be trying to get Richardson to say was that he was trying to play "both sides of the fence" (and anyone who watched last night's Sopranos know where that lands you.
Tim Russert queried Richardson about some of the comments quoted in The New York Times. Brian Sanderoff, head of a New Mexico polling firm said that "Mr. Richardson had handled the [immigration] issue adroitly in New Mexico, presenting himself as both tough and compassionate. Mr. Sanderoff said that might serve Mr. Richardson well as he tried to navigate this more complicated national terrain.". Hispanic Hopeful for ’08 Confronts Immigration, The New York Times by Adam Nagorney (24 May 2007) . And he didn't stop there, unfortunately:
“This is typical Bill Richardson,” he said. “Bill Richardson tends to take a middle of the road empathetic position with an act of toughness with it. That’s Bill. He’s hard to pigeonhole as being definitely anti-immigration or pro-immigration. He’s going to take a middle stance where he’ll seem to have positions on both sides of the fence.” Hispanic Hopeful for ’08 Confronts Immigration, supra.
Tim Russert brought this up, and Richardson doesn't seem to me to have been especially "adroit" in handling it. Again, I long for a candidate who will say the equivalent of "That's one man's opinion and I don't share it."
In all candor, it doesn't seem to me that he's actually doing this now. He seems, in fact, to have placed himself in opposition to the positions of most of the decisionmakers in Congress: Democrats such as Ted Kennedy who supported the bill, Republicans who know on which side Wall Street's bread is buttered, and Main Street Republicans who oppose it because either they are afraid of the illegals or think we have too many Latinos here already. If he IS trying to play both sides of the fence, I can't agree that this move is particularly "adroit," even taking into account his Hispanic constituents. Certainly the safest thing for him to do would have been to support it. He'd have looked just as tough---or compassionate---as Hillary Clinton or Obama, I think.
Unless I am presented with contrary evidence (in which case, you can count on me for some shame-free flip-flopping), I am going to see this as an instance of a candidate taking a stand on principle. At the end of the day, I think I think his position is morally and humanly right.
I hope---I really hope for his sake that he'll get some high-powered people to help him polish up his presentation----so he'll have the chance to persuade others.