Earlier today, the United States Supreme Court released its decision regarding SB 1070, Arizona’s controversial law regarding illegal immigration. In a 6-3 decision with Justice Kagan not participating (she had argued for the Federal government’s side before she was appointed to the Supreme Court), much of the law was struck down, except for the provision where local and state law enforcement officials were required to ask a suspect who had been stopped for another violation if he or she is in the country legally. To be honest, as long as said law is applied fairly, then I have no problem with that.
What blew me away was Mitt Romney’s response to the ruling.
Today’s decision underscores the need for a president who will lead on this critical issue and work in a bipartisan fashion to pursue a national immigration strategy. President Obama has failed to provide any leadership on immigration. This represents yet another broken promise by this president. I believe that each state has the duty — and the right — to secure our borders and preserve the rule of law, particularly when the federal government has failed to meet its responsibilities. As candidate Obama, he promised to present an immigration plan during his first year in office. But four years later, we are still waiting.
To quote a particular internet meme, “What is this I don’t even…”
There are a lot of things wrong with this statement. First off, I have to agree with Steve Benen when he says, “The irony is almost jaw-dropping. Romney is certain we need a president ‘who will lead’ on immigration policy, while at the exact same time, Romney refuses to lead on immigration policy. Put it this way: refusing to take a stand because one constituency or another might get angry isn’t leadership; it’s cowardice…” In my own mind, though, it’s also rather hypocritical to demand leadership from Obama on one hand, while on the other refusing to commit on what he would do in the same position (which he wants). It’s not enough to point out the incumbent’s flaw when running for office; we need to know what you plan to do to fix the problem.
Unfortunately for Romney, though, the problem is even more fundamental than that. The truth of the matter is that Obama has led in immigration reform. If one needs evidence, one needs only look back ten days ago, when Obama announced he would give relief to young illegal immigrants brought here at a young age by their parents, providing they meet certain conditions. Obama has been working towards this as far back as 2008 with his support of the DREAM Act. To say that Obama has not provided any leadership at all is dishonest posturing.
Speaking of the DREAM Act, it was introduced in 2009, and considered throughout 2010. However, a Republican filibuster caused the bill to die on the Senate floor. I’m sorry, but in my opinion, one loses the moral high ground to request bipartisanship when the party’s reaction to legislation it doesn’t like is not to work with the other side to make the necessary changes, but to stamp its feet and cry, “NO!” To quote a friend, that is also not leadership. It is a temper tantrum.
In fact, it reminds me of a novel I once read. The protagonist and his fiancee were arguing about some necessary business travel he was doing. He told his fiancee to please be reasonable. She angrily replied, “No, YOU be reasonable.” In his mind, he thought, “Translation: do it my way.” It’s hardly a spirit of bipartisanship if one side is unwilling to compromise.
Finally, what he believes and what is true are not anywhere the same thing. Despite what Romney might think is the states’ rights, the Supreme Court has held since 1875 that immigration is the exclusive purview of the Federal government. More, to say that the Federal government has not been meeting its responsibilities is false, as double the number of illegal immigrants have been deported in Obama’s term so far than in George W. Bush’s first term. In fact, it’s been suggested that Obama’s move last week was designed to head off anger from Hispanic voters concerning the increased number of deportations. As the old saying goes, “If you’re not making someone mad, you’re not doing your job…”
All in all, Romney’s response comes off to me as mealy-mouthed, dishonest, and out-of-touch. The last is the least surprising part, as we’re talking about someone who asked Alabama’s lead singer to sing “his” song “Sweet Home Alabama” (warning: video autostarts) and praised Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman’s approach to job creation the same day it was revealed planned on eliminating 27,000 jobs. I may not be happy with everything Obama has done as President, but so far, Romney shows me he is not the leader we need.
(As a post-script, I know Democrats in Texas and Wisconsin both pulled stunts to make sure legislation did not get passed that they didn’t like. In retrospect, I disagree that their actions were the right way to go, even as I heartily disagreed with Scott Walker’s bait-and-switch tactics. It isn’t right when either party pulls underhanded tactics.)