Eliot Spitzer backtracked on his plan to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, but it might be too little, too late for his approval ratings. Also, bloggers respond to the latest developments in Pakistan and Georgia.
No license to drive: Turns out all that grief for Hillary was for naught. Amid protests and plummeting approval ratings, New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer announced Wednesday that he's scrapping his plan to grant driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. Spitzer nevertheless chided critics who "equated minimum-wage, undocumented dishwashers with Osama Bin Laden" and blamed the federal government for not doing enough to protect U.S. borders.
Tom Bevan at Real Clear Politics notes that Spitzer's climb-down came too late to save his approval ratings: "Seven months ago Spitzer's net approval rating was +23. In their latest poll, it's at -20. Republicans give him a 29% approval, Independents 33%, and even among members of his own party he's only at 41% - a 36% job approval rating over all. No wonder Spitzer cried 'Uncle' yesterday." "If Spitzer's position was truly principled," submits conservative California Yankee, "should it not be worth fighting for to the better end? The truth is more likely that Spitzer's decision is simply unprincipled and poll-driven."
Susan Davis of the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire writes: "Spitzer's backpedaling won't close the book on an issue that has proved a rallying point for Republicans and further demonstrated how divisive illegal immigration proposals have become." Righty Michelle Malkin cautions: "Don't celebrate too hard, though. Several other states continue to provide licenses to illegal aliens and it is the Bush administration that continues to approve the use of the illegal alien matricula consular card. Spitzer's retreat is a significant victory and a symbolic victory, but a small one in the continuing struggle between Sanctuary Nation and Sovereign Nation."
Conservative Cassy Fiano fumes at Spitzer's claims that the federal government is to blame: "Got that? It's not his fault that the plan failed. It's the nasty federal government that is ruining his brilliant plan, and now New York is stuck with one million 'undocumented workers'. Notice how there was no mention of how handing out these licenses to illegal aliens would undermine security."
At the Moderate Voice, Joe Gandelman asks in sympathy: "But when you're under attack by Republicans, pressured by Democrats, pointed to as possibly causing the deconstruction of a Presidential candidate, vilified by talk show hosts and called names by Lou Dobbs, what's a governor to do?"
Read more about Spitzer's folly.
The wrath of Khan: Under its continuing emergency rule, the government of Gen. Pervez Musharraf has arrested national cricket icon and opposition leader Imran Khan. Khan had been a vocal critic of the country's implementation of martial law and—in a turn that has many questioning Musharraf's ostensible commitment to fighting Islamists—it was an Islamist student group that handed the sports star over to police.
Hasan Mubarak at Metroblogging Lahore offers details of Khan's arrest: "According to the plan, Imran Khan, arrived at the University's New Campus at around 12 noon and was immediately surrounded by members of the IJT who pushed him into the university's Centre for Higher Energy Physics (CHEPS) building. While he was being kept 'hostage' in there, Mr. Khan was reportedly tortured and manhandled by the IJT workers and plain-clothed men of the secret agencies. Hundreds of students including the IJT members and Khan's supporters gathered at the place and exchanged harsh words and fought with each other."
Winter Patriot assesses the situation: "[T]he Musharraf government appears to be orchestrating an elaborate charade, with [radical cleric] Maulana Fazlulla as the ever-elusive villain, Benazir Bhutto as the 'power-sharing' leader of the enabling opposition, and the real opposition figures either in exile (like Nawaz Sharif) or under house arrest (if not in prison)." He adds: "Imran Khan not only sees this; he even talks about it. He's a proven leader and an independent politician; a man of honor and dignity; an utter nightmare for the Musharraf government and a danger to the grand charade."
At Fanonite, Pakistani native and Scotland postgraduate student Muhammad Idrees Ahmad had his own run-in with the Jamaat-e-Islami student wing that arrested Khan and, which "has a sordid history of collaboration with dictatorships and state repression. On campuses they terrorize students for not adhering to a moral code, which in their own case remains highly flexible. Back when I was studying at the University of Peshawar, I was once issued a threat by the 'Nazim' (campus leader for the student wing) for visiting the campus cafeteria with fellow students of the other gender."
Read more about Imran Khan's arrest.
Georgia on your mind: Another state of emergency, this one in Georgia, is going to be lifted Friday, according to the regime of Mikheil Saakashvili. The Caucasian crackdown on media, opposition groups, and civil liberties came just four years after the Rose Revolution, which saw the election of Saakashvili, a pro-American post-Soviet leader thought to be a friend of democracy and the open society.
Foreign-policy blogger Pundita wonders if the State Department's $10 billion annual budget is too much, given its records of backing losers: "It's not enough to promote democracy or 'American interests' in the world. It's a matter of training your eyes to be quicker than the card player's hands in regions of the world where corruption and bad faith are synonymous with government. The case of Georgia is an instructive example."
Mark Almond Oxford posts about how billionaire and self-described "philosophical speculator" George Soros strongly supported Saakashvili's government and the "Rose Revolution" that emplaced it. Yet why has Soros been quiet on the state of emergency? "In the past, Soros has had no problem ditching politicians whom he had backed when they disappointed him or stepped out of line in some way. Is his silence today about Saakashvili's clampdown a sign of shame or indifference to then regime's resort to force to stay in power."
Read more about Georgia.