Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

A better test for John McCain

Aside from his irritating comments about "reaching across the aisle" or "bipartisanship," the primary ire amongst those opposed to John McCain comes down to one, simple issue: McCain/Kennedy. He can't spin his participation in that legislation away. Everyone knows the role he played in it. But in recent debates, and even on the talking-head shows, the moderators are basically allowing him to spin his way out of it by asking him if he'd sign the bill if it arrived on his desk. His obvious spin-meister answer is "no, because that bill is dead and won't come back," or something to that effect.

Over at NRO's The Corner, Mark Krikorian received an e-mail with a far better test of John McCain's newfound stance on immigration and one, in which, provides him the least amount of wiggle room:

An e-mail passed on to me from Brent raises a great question:

Why is it that Russert/Cooper et.al. keep asking McCain if he would sign the hated S.1639 as President if given the opportunity (allowing him to weasel out of a direct answer by claiming it won't ever happen? Why not ask him this instead:"Senator McCain, there are currently two Senate versions of HR 4088, Rep. Heath Shuler's "SAVE Act", which focuses exclusively on border security and interior enforcement, and enjoys bipartisan support in the House. In light of your commitment to 'securing the borders first', will you work to assure passage of that bill, and would you sign it into law as President if granted the opportunity?"

Try to make him say yes or no, and see how he reacts. I simply don't understand why they keep bringing up the issue in a way he can weasel out of stating unequivocally what he will do if elected.

I'm ashamed I hadn't thought of this myself. People on the Hill have told me that the House Democrat leadership may actually move
Shuler's enforcement-only bill to give their vulnerable members a better chance in November. So unlike a big amnesty bill that McCain keeps telling us isn't going to happen, it's perfectly plausible that he would have to decide whether to vote for Shuler's bill this year or sign it next year. Would he do it? I know what I think, but someone needs to ask him. ...

I, of course, don't believe McCain either, and nor should you. But if McCain does want to placate immigration critics, he can take Mickey Kaus's advice and pledge not to promote or sign any legalization bill during his first term, focusing exclusively on enforcement, and reserve legalization and a "temporary" worker program as issues for his reelection campaign — at which point the voters could assess his progress in clamping down on illegal immigration, not the border governors, who would gladly lie for McCain to get an amnesty through.

Everytime he's asked the stupid question of "would you sign the amnesty bill," it allows him to weasel out of the answer, and deflect the simple fact that he was involved in it. The press is purposefully giving him these opportunities in an attempt to shore up his paltry image amongst conservatives.

The above question goes more to the heart, and would make him truly stand up for his 180 degree turn ont he issu. Likewise, Mickey Kaus' advice should be taken to heart. Get a commitment out of him that his first term will focus on enforcement and security first, and regularization and a guest worker program second, and only if he has a second term. At the very least, he can maintain voters in this respect, and should he only run for one term (he would be 76 at the end of his first term, and he's barely got the energy now for the campaign), his veep might be able to move forward on the second part of the immigration problem.

Remember, this is what killed him in 2007. This is what many pundits claimed would be the nail in his political coffin. (We weren't wrong, but we sure as Hell were not expecting him to change direction, and we weren't sure how the media was goingto give him cover on the issue.) IF a commitment to such an idea can be promised by him, and a promise of vetoing any sort of regularization for illegals until after ALL enforcement and secutrity provisions had been met, then he might have a chance with voters in the general.

Notice that I said in the general election. The primaries are far from over, and I'm only looking at McCain in the general. We'll be voting for Romney this coming Tuesday, and that's only because we really don't trust John McCain. But if he were to make these promises to voters, and if he were the nominee, then he might be able to pull some of those Republican voters out of their homes on election day.

Publius II


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