And This Is Not A Gaffe?
Who is smarter? Is it New York Senator Chuck Schumer, a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform and opponent of increased border security or Arizona Senator John McCain, a supporter of both comprehensive immigration reform and increased border security?
I'm not talking about their intelligence quotients, which give nary a clue about their political expertise, nor who is right on the issues. Nor am I talking about the self-inflicted wound administered by McCain when he chose Sarah Palin as his running-mate.
Preparatory to passage of the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013," the Senate approved the Corker-Hoeven Amendment to increase surveillance of the U.S.-Mexico border. Introduced in order to allay fears of some conservatives over the immigration bill, the Amendment was a test case for overall support for the BSECOIMA of 2013. Senators who intended to vote for the legislation voted for the Amendment, those who intended to vote against the legislation voted against the Amendment, and a few members actually voted according to what they really thought about Corker-Hoeven.
Schumer, not a border security enthusiast, labeled the security proposals "the border surge," as had Tennessee conservative Corker. A "surge" is intended to bring up memories of the surge in Iraq, perceived, however inaccurately, as a success. Appearing on CNN, however, John McCain drew on a different historical landmark, stating
I think that, first of all, the legislation concerning beefed up border security removes any validity to the argument that border security is not sufficient. I mean, this is not only sufficient, it is well over sufficient. We'll be the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall so that's why I think this amendment was very important.
No, no, he really did. A United States senator in supporting security- including additional miles of a wall- compared it to the Berlin Wall. Referring, favorably, to something as a "militarized border" is politically problematic. More blatant, however, is comparing extension of the wall between the U.S.A. and Mexico to the Berlin Wall. The former is intended to keep people out. The latter, as recollection has it, was devoted (largely satisfactorily) to keeping people in. The Berlin Wall was emblematic of the Iron Curtain and symbolic of a tyrannical regime.
Unlike Schumer, McCain evidently doesn't realize, as comprehensive immigration reform opponent Mickey Kaus explains (cross-out his)
Budget considerations alone will mean the advertised ”surge” won’t be sustained–as Obama’s earlier 1,500 man National Guard surge wasn’t sustained. Future lawmakers will be looking around for “offsetting” spending cuts and that bloated 40,000 man border patrol will stick out like a nail that wants to be hammered. Plus, once Democrats have eaten their meal illegal immigrants have their legalization in hand, Democrats will lose 80% of their motivation to make good on the law’s elaborate promises. They’re already unhappy with the back end of the deal–Sen. Leahy calls it “a Christmas wish list for Halliburton.” Meanwhile, militarizing the border is drawing immediate protests. Business interests–especially farmers–can be expected to oppose the requirement that they use a computerized system to check new hires. There will be little to stop these forces–the ones that have blocked enforcement until now–except some Republican pols saying “But … but you pwomised!”
Kaus' suspicion that a "surge' wouldn't be sustained by a future president or congress was given additional credence when the current President delayed for a year the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate. No future congress is bound by the acts of the current Congress, which would make future implementation of any immigration reform little more than a crapshoot.
Mandatory disclaimer: John McCain is a great American hero who has served his nation with distinction both in and out of the military. But it does make one wonder if the gods look kindly upon Barack Obama. In 2012, with the financial crisis just about in the rear view mirror, the best the opposition party could do was oppose him with the living, breathing embodiment of the 1%, four years after it put up a guy who appears to believe the Berlin Wall was a model for civilized society.