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August 15, 2007

Obligatory Rudy-Supports-Amnesty Post

Just so I'm not accused of being completely in the tank for Giuliani. (I am in the tank for Giuliani, just not completely so.)

Rudy's camp has replied that technology has now advanced to the point where statements he made last year are no longer operative. This is a fairly clever response, and by clever, I mean "transparently bullshit."

However, just to inject a little nuance into this: A year ago it was rather uncontroversial throughout the entirety of the Republican establishment to support the WSJ line on illegal immigration. In fact, it was considered racist to even dare to speak out against it. For what it's worth, I myself avoided this topic like the plague all through 2005 and 2006 when Michelle Malkin was regularly posting about it (in fact, setting up a separate immigration blog for it), and everyone knew they were supposed to call Tom Tancredo "nativist" or "too hardline," because that was the politically correct thing to say.

Even if you thought he sorta had a point.

Cowardly? I don't like the word "cowardly." I hardly think that's fair.

Let's say "craven" instead.

I only finally started posting about the issue when I was forced to, when the Grand Security-Compromise came together to foist the Comprehensive Piece of Shit on an unwilling nation.


A lot of people -- judging by commenters' responses -- were long uncomfortable with the whole subject ("Racist!" "Nativist!" "Hispanic-Hater!") and also didn't talk about it much until the Grand Security-Compromisers threatened to actually enact their amnesty plan, in which case old reservations were trumped by the new need to speak forcefully on the subject.

For many issues there is a political path of least resistance. For a good long while the status quo on immigration was tolerated, not because it was actually an acceptable state of affairs, but to criticize it from the right exposed one to the charge of racism, nativism, etc. So most people didn't say boo and just mouthed platitudes about how hard-working Hispanic immigrants were, even though, of course, few were actually happy to have 12-30 million "undocumented Americans" living in the country.

Only when the amnesty coalition and the multi-culti let's-change-the-electorate left forced the issue did many conservatives actually start pushing back. And once we started pushing, we found that we didn't mind continuing to push so much. Even dyed-in-the-wool liberals like Byron Dorgan found themselves suddenly parroting the "racist, rightwing nativist Rush Limbaugh line" on depressed wages, increased social expenditures, and the need for a policy that encouraged security, assimilation, regulation, and, where appropriate, deportation.

Let's not forget a year ago it was considered rather "rightwing extremist" to suggest that perhaps illegal aliens with a long list of felonies ought to be deported expeditiously. Oh, sure, in theory everyone except Geraldo Rivera would agree with this; but any actual policy change to effect this was considered intolerant lunatic militia-style extremism.

Have GOP candidates changed their positions on this issue? Have they flip-flopped? Of course they have. Why in the hell did we need to constantly dial up our Senators if they were all remaining consistent on their long-held position of security-first border-enforcement?

But that's partly because actual Republican voters -- and the American public at large -- also changed its position on this issue.

Or, to be more accurate: Changed its stated, freely offered, openly announced position on the issue. Many might have been security-first before the Comprehensive Piece of Shit was forced on us; but let's be honest-- only a small cadre of us actually bothered to say so, and even when we did say so, we weren't particularly stalwart on the issue.

We were -- at least myself and I think many others -- rather more nuanced in our public utterances.

Does this mean I think Rudy Giuliani should be given a free pass? Not exactly. It should be counted in any politician's credit if he can take a position which he knows is right even when public opinion is arrayed against him. And we can't be entirely sure that a Rudy-Come-Lately to the security-first position isn't simply disingenuously pandering on the issue. We don't know how Rudy will act in the future. We know what he's said before and we know what he's saying now; we don't know what his real stance will end up being.

On the other hand, apart from Tom Tancredo, I think it would be hard to name a single candidate whose position on this has not subtly shifted, or even entirely flip-flopped, since the Great Amnesty Battle of the late spring. Fred Thompson is talking big on border enforcement now, I'd imagine; but did he show much passion for the issue in the past?

I'm not spinning here -- okay, I am -- but it's honest spin. When the center of stated public opinion has shifted so rapidly in just three or four months -- including the opinion of many who'd call themselves strong conservatives -- realistically one has to expect a bit of, errr, adjustment by candidates to the changed political landscape.

Yes, Rudy has flip-flopped. (At least I hope he's flip-flopped and not merely lip-flopped.) As has Romney. As has even John McCain. As has, I'd guess, even Teh Mighty Fred. And while I confess I don't know Gingrich's opinion on this, I have to say I do not recall border enforcement being a particularly high priority of his during his term as Speaker of the House, even when he was "co-President," as some said after the 1994 Republican sweep.

As have many readers of this site.

Politicians generally lead -- but lead from the middle. They rarely like being far out of the soft fat comfortable middle of consensus opinion. And where that middle has moved so dramatically, it seems little wonder that our would-be leaders' deepest-held principles have similarly migrated.

Personally, I'd give him a pass for past panders, so long as I were convinced he's right on the issue now and truly intends to govern the way I want on the issue. I'm actually not convinced of that -- and it's up to him to persuade me. No more talk of a "highly technological fence," please, unless that's mentioned after a decidedly low-tech fence across the whole border. He needs to make a statement on immigration equal to his vow to appoint judges like Alito and Roberts if he wants credibility. A tangible standard he can't easily chat his way back from.

And if not, well, then I write him off. We don't need Bush II on this issue.


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posted by Ace at 08:59 PM

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