Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Limbaugh Critiques Powell

It wasn't a firestorm General Colin Powell ignited on his appearance on Sunday's Meet The Press (transcript here), but it was a brush fire. Asked about the Support Prison Privitization Act (more commonly thought of as the immigrant legislation) in Arizona, General Powell responded

The American people want their borders to be protected. There's nothing wrong with that. There's nothing wrong with making sure that people come across our borders, particularly our southern border, in a legal, safe manner. But, at the same time, we have millions and millions of illegal immigrants in our country, undocumented individuals, who are working, who are doing things we need done in this country. They're all over at my house doing things whenever I call for repairs, and I'm sure you've seen them at, at your house. We've got to find a way to bring these people out of the darkness and give them some kind of status.

Powell grabbed the fire hose and issued a clarification on Monday, stating

I don't hire illegal immigrants. On Meet the Press yesterday, I referred to illegal immigrants working around my house. I was referring to the many service contractors who work in my neighborhood, using mostly immigrant workers, who do good work. Some may well be 'illegal.' There are 11 million illegal immigrants in this country and most are working somewhere in our economy.

Somehow, between Sunday morning and Monday morning (inclusive), "they're all over at my house doing things whenever I call for repairs" became "immigrant workers," "some" of whom "may well be illegal," "who work in my neighborhood." Perhaps General Powell was hallucinating, imagining that he saw immigrant workers on his property when he actually had seen them only as he was driving down the street.

At first read, Powell was lying on Day 2 when he claimed "I don't hire illegal immigrants" or on Day 1, by embellishing his argument that illegal immigrants are ubiquitous (a fact of American life we cannot wish away), claiming that they even work at his house. Either way, we were reminded that politicians are not the only public officials who lie.

Or maybe not. Like a stopped clock- right twice a day- Rush Limbaugh is right at least twice a year, and yesterday he met half his quota. Criticizing Powell on Monday for his initial remark, Limbaugh apparently was informed by his producer mid-stream that the General had issued the "clarification." Rush said Powell

told USA Today that he doesn't hire illegal immigrants. Well, he said they're all over his house but he doesn't hire 'em. The contractors hire 'em, but he knows the contractors. But he's not hiring them, he's hiring the contractor. Now, this is splitting hairs because it's General Powell's payments to the contractors that permit....

Apparently even before being updated, Limbaugh had commented (emphasis mine)

So he admits that he's hiring illegal immigrants. Maybe not directly, maybe just in the companies he hires to repair things in his house, and that includes all the rest of us. "I'm sure you've seen 'em." If illegal aliens currently in the country were all give an amnesty and were all to begin to pay taxes, Powell would start hiring the next wave of illegals for the same reason he hires the ones he does today. Why does he hire them? Why do you think he hires them? It's 'cause they're cheaper! It's cheaper to hire illegal aliens than American citizens who have to pay their taxes -- Social Security, other taxes. After all, the general's six-figure retirement income only goes so far. You have to make it work any way you can. But this is striking, is it not?

One qualification needs to be made- Rush mistakes a "path to citizenship" with "amnesty." Were illegal immigrants required "to begin to pay taxes," they would not have been granted amnesty but rather placed on a road to citizenship. Still, Limbaugh's comment suggests, accurately, that Powell was not really lying when he maintained "I don't hire illegal immigrants." Not directly, he doesn't. But although, as Powell was asserting, there are illegal immigrants working at many homes throughout the U.S.A., his comment, suggesting a disturbing comfort with this state of affairs, was striking.

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