September 12, 2008

Re: Two-faced McCain

Justin Katz

Without challenging Don's feelings about McCain — considering that the candidate would find it difficult indeed to get me much past ambivalent about him — I'm not sure it's entirely fair to characterize the Spanish ad as "two-faced." Here's a translation posted on a forum that appears to be hostile to McCain:

Obama and his Congressional allies say they are on the side of immigrants. But are they?
The press reports that their efforts were 'poison pills' that made immigration reform fail.
The result:
No guest worker program.
No path to citizenship.
No secure borders.
No reform.
Is that being on our side?
Obama and his Congressional allies ready to block immigration reform, but not ready to lead.

Is that playing with some vagueries in such terms as "guest worker program"? Perhaps, although we've seen that the Hispanic Caucus's version of immigration reform is indeed holding up desirable guest worker programs (that are particularly important for Rhode Island) in order to achieve more extreme ends. But I see no reason to doubt that McCain is developing a consistent message (whatever one's opinion of his sincerity might be). Consider another ad; this one in English. He mentions the contributions of Hispanic Americans, and even non-Americans, to the U.S. military:

So let's, from time to time, remember that these are God's children. They must come into this country legally, but they have enriched our culture and our nation as every generation of immigrants before them.

A strong case can be made that McCain is too willing to compromise on certain policies, but if his point is that Americans should respect immigrants (and hopeful immigrants), while enforcing the law, and that problems with immigration law should be resolved expediently, then nothing in these ads contradicts that message. (I'd note that he could go even further, stressing that Democrats have an electoral interest in keeping the immigrant strife an active issue.)