same difference

Senator Obama to the National Council of La Raza:

That’s what’s at stake this November. This election is nothing less than a test of our allegiance to the American Dream. And it’s a test of our commitment to all those who are counting on us to keep that Dream alive – the people you serve every day.

The 12 million people in the shadows, the communities taking immigration enforcement into their own hands, the neighborhoods seeing rising tensions as citizens are pitted against new immigrants…they’re counting on us to stop the hateful rhetoric filling our airwaves – rhetoric that poisons our political discourse, degrades our democracy, and has no place in this great nation. They’re counting on us to rise above the fear and demagoguery, the pettiness and partisanship, and finally enact comprehensive immigration reform.

There’s nothing wrong with requiring local, state, and federal governments to enforce existing immigration laws.  While there will always be those who oppose all immigration due to their own racial prejudices, that doesn’t represent the majority of those who support border enforcement and the rule of law.  Both McCain and Obama tend to blur the lines here by using the word immigrants instead of illegal immigrants. Those two terms are not the same.  I’m all in favor of legal immigration.  Most Americans support legal immigration.  We oppose people breaking the law to enter this country.  No apology should be necessary for that.

He continues:

Now, I know Senator McCain used to buck his party on immigration by fighting for comprehensive reform – and I admired him for it. But when he was running for his party’s nomination, he abandoned his courageous stance, and said that he wouldn’t even support his own legislation if it came up for a vote.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time for a President who won’t walk away from something as important as comprehensive reform when it becomes politically unpopular. And that’s the commitment I’m making to you. I marched with you in the streets of Chicago. I fought with you in the Senate for comprehensive immigration reform. And I will make it a top priority in my first year as President. Not just because we need to secure our borders and get control of who comes into our country. And not just because we have to crack down on employers abusing undocumented immigrants. But because we have to finally bring those 12 million people out of the shadows.

Yes, they broke the law. And we should not excuse that. We should require them to pay a fine, learn English, and go to the back of the line for citizenship – behind those who came here legally. But we cannot – and should not – deport 12 million people. That would turn American into something we’re not; something we don’t want to be.

Both John McCain and Barack Obama are skilled at telling groups like La Raza what they want to hear about comprehensive immigration reform.  McCain may have fooled Barack Obama when he said all that stuff about securing the borders first, but everyone who was paying attention knew McCain didn’t really change his position on this.   You don’t co-sponsor a comprehensive immigration bill with Ted Kennedy, knowing the political fallout from that, without buying into the concept.

We can’t deport 12 million people.  No one is saying that we can.  But we should start by strengthening existing laws and tightening employer verification rules.  Those are good first steps.  Which of these men would support these provisions without adding the path to citizenship part to their new comprehensive immigration plan?  My guess is that neither man would.  If Senator Obama is serious about making enforcement of current laws part of his strategy to combat illegal immigration, then he might want to lay off some of his own derogatory rhetoric toward ICE — who he accused of “terrorizing communities” earlier in his remarks to La Raza  — because he will need their help with that.


I’ve said from the very beginning that I don’t believe that John McCain ever changed his mind about comprehensive immigration reform, so Byron York’s column in The Hill doesn’t surprise me.  McCain is quoted as saying that he learned his lesson from the immigration fight.  On the other hand, he still says that he’s glad he proposed the reform and would do it again.  We should be perfectly clear where McCain stands on this because he still believes that he was right on this issue.  Don’t be fooled.

That said, Barack Obama might want to reconsider attacking McCain on this issue. There’s no way Barack can say he’s to the right of McCain on illegal immigration — although he might be able to claim credit for not writing any comprehensive immigration reform bills. He hasn’t demonstrated any ability to improve upon McCain’s sad record, and at one point even supported driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.  In addition to that, he voted for McCain-Kennedy before he supported some “poison pill” amendments to kill it.  Any discussion of McCain’s record on immigration would bring counter-attacks from the McCain camp about Barack’s record — and he might not want to go there.  John McCain and Barack Obama sometimes say the right things about securing the borders first, but I don’t believe either one of them, and there’s no reason to, based on their record in the Senate.

bush the second

There’s another compassionate conservative who wants to claim the title of the new and improved version of George W. Bush — Mike Huckabee. Huckabee has those valuable social conservative credentials. He’s pro-life, pro-gun, pro-family. He’s also very personable. People like him…and why not? What’s not to like about a Southern Baptist minister with a gift for gab and enough folksy sayings to fill a daily calendar? I have no doubt that he would put a high priority on originalist SCOTUS picks and that he would push for a Federal Marriage Amendment. Unfortunately, those with the view of government’s role in our lives that Dubya and Mike Huckabee share can’t possibly commit to responsible spending or small government. The reason I don’t trust Huckabee on spending is not just because the Club for Growth and CATO panned his Arkansas record.

Jennifer Rubin(NRO)(emphasis mine):

He was not the poster child for smaller government. During his tenure, the number of state government workers in Arkansas increased over 20 percent. Under Governor Huckabee’s watch, state spending increased a whopping 65.3 percent from 1996 to 2004, three times the rate of inflation, and the state’s general obligation debt shot up by almost $1 billion. As Grover Norquist quipped, “We like chubby governors and skinny budgets. Not the other way around.” The massive increase in government spending is due in part to the number of new health programs and expansion of existing ones, including ARKids First, a state program to provide health coverage for 70,000 Arkansas children. Spending on ARKids alone increased 69 percent over a five-year period. Huckabee says it is worth it. He proudly states: “ARKids First is without a doubt, the program I am most proud of. This provides health insurance to tens of thousands of children who didn’t have access to health care before. Instead of a total government approach, this requires deductibles and copays and therefore some personal responsibility. Children can’t learn if they are sitting in class with a toothache, fever, or they can’t see the chalkboard.”

Those are some scary numbers for fiscal conservatives who have been disappointed in President Bush’s recklessness on government spending. Bush seems to be getting the message too late, but at least he’s going in the right direction now. With Huckabee, you don’t really know which Huckabee you will get as President — the one who cut taxes and who was named a “friend of the taxpayer” in his first term, or the one who massively increased government spending and the number of state workers. That’s something to think when trying to decide whether Huckabee is the right guy to put in charge of the bloated federal bureaucracy we already have in D.C.

The similarities with Bush don’t stop with spending. Huckabee is also sympathetic to illegal immigration, just like our President. He is saying all the right things about securing the borders, no amnesty, etc…but when he defends giving in-state college tuition to illegals with good grades, that’s something that might raise a few eyebrows with those opposed to any kind of benefits for non-citizens, even if it was the parent, not the student, who broke the law. He says that his proposal asked those students to apply and become citizens in order to get the tuition reduction, but it’s not clear whether this was a requirement or simply a request. I’m not saying that any of the other presidential candidates are much more solid on illegal immigration. I’m just surprised that so many social conservatives who also care about illegal immigration choose to gloss over Huck’s conflicting views on the subject.

If you liked the Bush presidency, then Huckabee’s your guy. It’s all a question of priorities, I guess, because there isn’t one candidate out there who can make us all happy.

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