Monday, June 18, 2012

Pound On It

It is one of those things everyone know which just isn't so.

It is a conceit of the mainstream media that candidates who occupy the middle-of-the-road usually win general elections.    On any one issue, capture moderates and the left or moderates and the right, thus winning while the politicians who pander exclusively to the left or to the right are left in the dust.

The reality, however, is far different.     Sadly, (usually) Republicans who have taken a firm, far-right position against abortion rights or for gun rights frequently have defeated Democrats who have taken a more moderate position.    At times, (usually) Democrats who have stood steadfast for tolerance of gay rights (as long as it did not include support for marriage, which it rarely has) or the rights of ethnic minorities have beaten Republicans more conflicted- and moderate- on either or both of those issues.

With some exceptions, candidates who have positioned themselves as clearly conservative or liberal on an issue have benefited from the usually, though not always, accurate perception that they are comfortable with their position and probably with themselves.    Generally, they come off to the electorate as self-assured and strong.

Being suspicious of a more expansive approach to immigration (which advanced a step on Friday) I'm tempted to argue the President should drop, or at least soft-pedal, comprehensive immigration reform during the campaign.

But that would be foolish.   President Obama announced that the Secretary of Homeland Security had adopted what could be considered a kind of Dream Act Lite, but no one would think so simply by listening to, or watching, his statement    He declared, in an effective nod to the literary technique of anaphora

This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It’s not a permanent fix. This is a temporary, stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people. It is the — it is the right thing to do.

Mr. Obama, who obviously has supported a path to citizenship for years, argued unashamedly and appeared to have had no second thoughts about the new approach to young people who entered the country illegally.

Not so Mitt Romney who, reacting to Obama's statement, equivocated.    He told reporters

I believe the status of young people who come here through no fault their own is an important matter to be considered and should be solved on a long-term basis so they know what their future would be in this country.    I think the action of the president today makes it more difficult to reach that long-term solution because an executive order is of course, a short-term matter and can be reversed by subsequent presidents.

No one wins an election in America by criticizing an opponent's position while being unable to articulate why he's opposed to it.    Knocking a policy because it is only short-term and can be reversed by a future president is not very persuasive, especially when that "subsequent president" might be that very candidate, who refuses to commit himself on the substance of the policy.    As NBC's Chuck Todd observed today, "when you're attacking the process, it means you're losing the policy argument."

It didn't get any better for the Mittster when he appeared on CBS' Face the Nation Sunday, when this exchange took place:  

Schieffer: Would you repeal this?

Romney: Well, it would be overtaken by events if you will, by virtue of my putting in place a long-term solution, with legislation which creates law that relates to these individuals such that they know what their setting is going to be, not just for the term of a President but on a permanent basis.

Schieffer: I won't keep on about this but just to make sure I understand, would you leave this in place while you worked out a long term solution or would you just repeal it?

Romney: We'll look at that setting as we reach that, but my anticipation is I'd come into office and say we need to get this done, on a long-term basis, not this kind of stop-gap measure. What the President did, he should have worked on this years ago, if he felt seriously about this he should have taken action when he had a Democrat House and Senate, but he didn't. He saves these sort of things until four and a half months before the general election.

Schieffer: Well why do you think he did that?

Romney: I think the timing is pretty clear, if he really wanted to make a solution that dealt with these kids or with illegal immigration in America, than this is something he would have taken up in his first 3 and a half years, not in his last few months.

Schieffer: So he did it for politics.

Romney: Well, that's certainly a big part of the equation.

What on earth does Mitt Romney believe about (illegal immigration)?   Does anyone really know?   Speculation (which will occur here at a later date) doesn't count.    Romney appears not to know what he believes about the issue or is trying to hide it.    Either way, it smacks of a lack of genuineness, which won't play well with the electorate.

Romney is no more at ease discussing immigration than he is at addressing most cultural issues.     Following the former governor's speech last month before the Latino Coalition at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,  Ramiro Morganes of the Coalition for Democracy commented  "Romney needs to work on the Dream Act. He didn't say anything about it.       Someone needs to think about the Dream Act."

He has been running for the presidency for over six years and Romney (according to a deeply interested party) still hasn't thought about the Development, Relief, and Education for Undocumented Minors Act Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act.   The suspicion arises that Romney, an intelligent man, doesn't want to talk about immigration, that perhaps it makes him as uncomfortable as long-haired, blond, effeminate young men once did.    If it does, immigration is an issue candidate Obama should return to.   Again and again.

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