Commentary Magazine


Just About Immigration?

ABC reports on John McCain’s La Raza speech today, highlighting this portion of his remarks:

But he suggested in his speeches there and here, that I turned my back on comprehensive reform out of political necessity. I feel I must, as they say, correct the record. At a moment of great difficulty in my campaign, when my critics said it would be political suicide for me to do so, I helped author with Senator Kennedy comprehensive immigration reform, and fought for its passage. I cast a lot of hard votes, as did the other Republicans and Democrats who joined our bipartisan effort. So did Senator Kennedy. I took my lumps for it without complaint. My campaign was written off as a lost cause. I did so not just because I believed it was the right thing to do for Hispanic Americans. It was the right thing to do for all Americans. Senator Obama declined to cast some of those tough votes. He voted for and even sponsored amendments that were intended to kill the legislation, amendments that Senator Kennedy and I voted against. I never ask for any special privileges from anyone just for having done the right thing. Doing my duty to my country is its own reward. But I do ask for your trust that when I say, I remain committed to fair, practical and comprehensive immigration reform.

Jake Tapper, as Lynn Sweet recently did, gives McCain a boost, reminding readers:

There was a cohesive bipartisan group led by Sens. McCain and Ted Kennedy, D-Mass, that worked to defeat amendments that would hurt the overall bill’s chance of final passage — amendments that were too liberal for the Republicans and too conservative for the Democrats. And on at least five occasions, Obama voted for amendments against the wishes of the bipartisan group, including Kennedy.

Now, immigration reform is a hive-inducing topic for some on the Right, but it is smart for McCain to bring this up, and to do it in this way.

First, he is going to need to appeal to Hispanic voters in Florida and New Mexico and his stance (i.e. border control first but comittment to comprehensive immigration reform) is one that likely pleases many independent voters. Second, this example fits nicely into McCain’s theme that Obama is a phony bipartisan and a non-achiever. Like the Gang of 14 (another sore point with the Right), McCain took a position his base didn’t like, joined with Democrats, and aimed to end stalemate. Where was Obama on these? Nowhere. And finally, for those on the Right who think the MSM gives Obama a free pass, here is an instance in which two mainstream news organizations (ABC and the Chicago Sun-Times) are calling Obama on the carpet. While not every outlet is so exacting, Obama’s team should take note: it is getting a lot harder to lie about his record.