McCain: One of Us!
Liberals' secret feelings about the GOP leader.
Friday, February 1, 2008
Cardinal Murphy has word of a poll showing Obama tied in ... California. Yikes. Is the Hispandering working? That would fit with the Skurnik "Two Electorates" theory--most Latino voters, like most other voters, tune in only for the last few days, and what theynow see is Obama talking about giving drivers' licenses to illegals. ... 3:55 P.M.
The Annotated Pander: Barack Obama presented himself after Iowa as the candidate who "won't just tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to know." But that was then.
Now, if you're a Latino voter, he'll just tell you what you want to hear. He's in the middle of a desperate Hispandering initiative, which culminated in this exchange last night, which I've annotated:
CUMMINGS: This is from Kim Millman (ph) from Burnsville, Minnesota. And she says, "there's been no acknowledgement by any of the presidential candidates of the negative economic impact of immigration on the African-American community. How do you propose to address the high unemployment rates and the declining wages in the African-American community that are related to the flood of immigrant labor?"
Senator Obama, you want to go first on that? And it's for both of you.
OBAMA: Well, let me first of all say that I have worked on the streets of Chicago as an organizer with people who have been laid off from steel plants, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, and, you know, all of them are feeling economically insecure right now, and they have been for many years. Before the latest round of immigrants showed up, you had huge unemployment rates among African-American youth.
And, so, I think to suggest somehow that the problem that we're seeing in inner-city unemployment, for example, is attributable to immigrants, I think, is a case of scapegoating that I do not believe in, I do not subscribe to. 
And this is where we do have a very real difference with the other party.
OBAMA: I believe that we can be a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.
Now, there is no doubt that we have to get control of our borders. We can't have hundreds of thousands of people coming over to the United States without us having any idea who they are 
I also believe that we do have to crack down on those employers that are taking advantage of the situation, hiring folks who cannot complain about worker conditions, who aren't getting the minimum wage sometimes, or aren't getting overtime. We have to crack down on them.  I also believe we have to give a pathway to citizenship after they have paid a fine and learned English, to those who are already here, because if we don't, they will continue to undermine U.S. wages.
But let's understand more broadly that the economic problems that African-Americans are experiencing, whites are experienc[ing], blacks and Latinos are experiencing in this country are all rooted in the fact that we have had an economy out of balance. We've had tax cuts that went up instead of down. We have had a lack of investment in basic infrastructure in this country. Our education system is chronically underfunded.
And so, there are a whole host of reasons why we have not been generating the kinds of jobs that we are generating. We should not use immigration as a tactic to divide. Instead, we should pull the country together to get this economy back on track.
: "Scapegoating" does for me what "timetable" apparently does for John McCain--it signals complete, maddening ideological disconnect. It's typically used by liberals--as it is here--in a doomed attempt to make a social problem highlighted by conservatives simply go away. You see it wasn't that welfare subsidized an isolated culture of non-work and broken families that produced poverty and crime--welfare recipients were just "scapegoats" for economic frustrations caused by a bad economy! And it's not that illegal immigration lowers unskilled wages and makes it harder for blacks to escape that inner-city culture of poverty. That's "scapegoating" also. (African-Americans who complain about immigrants must just be too foolish to figure that out.)
This isn't the language of a politician who wants to transcend partisan difference. This is the language of a politician who wants to wallow in partisan (and ideological) cant! Obama knows better, of course--he gave a very different answer at the time of the big immigration marches of May, 2006 [E.A.]:
It does appear that undocumented workers have a somewhat adverse effect in depressing the wages of low-skill workers, which is why in the African-American community, for example, there is some nervousness of about the number of undocumented workers that are coming into this country and whether they are systematically replacing or pushing out low-skill, low-wage black workers.
I doubt he's changed his mind. He's just pandering.
Photograph of Ann Coulter on Slate's home page by Brad Barket/Getty. Photograph of a wedding cake with two grooms on Slate's home page by Hector Mata/AFP Photo. Photograph of Princess Diana on Slate's home page by Georges De Keerle/Getty Images.