Soren in the Daily Caller about those who oppose immigration reform

I wrote a piece at the Daily Caller about one guy I met back in 2007 who was opposed to immigration reform and how he relates to so many of the groups involved in stopping immigration. The short form is that instinctive opponents to immigration fail to understand either Christianity or conservatism.

To the extent that my acquaintance was concerned about human dignity, he viewed an increase in the population of humans as the greatest challenge to that dignity. This is something that he shared with Margaret Sanger and the founders of Planned Parenthood. That’s why Planned Parenthood supported contraception and abortion for certain elements of society. This is the real face of so many leaders of anti-immigration organizations who, when they talk to conservatives and Christians, present themselves as conservative.

Romney ad “misleading”; McCain responds

Mitt Romney dropped a negative ad in New Hampshire attacking John McCain. However, it seems that Romney, again, has some truthiness problems. Given the factual errors below, it is clear why McCain goes straight to Romney’s credibility problem.

Factcheck.org, "More Mitt Malarky":

Romney’s latest ad attacks McCain in New Hampshire with false and misleading claims

WaPo’s Howie Kurtz:

Mitt Romney, who targeted Mike Huckabee in an earlier commercial, is now running the most negative campaign of any presidential candidate in either party. … Romney’s description of McCain’s failed immigration bill — which was backed by President Bush — is so selective as to be misleading.

New York Times:

Specifically, Mr. Romney assails Mr. McCain on both tax policies and immigration. On both topics, the commercial presents facts that could be construed either as selective or worse, misleading.

Mark Halperin from Time points out:

First negative ad against Romney by any candidate, first negative ad by McCain, first negative ad by any candidate besides Romney.

Negative campaigning. Lying. Debating what the definition of "saw" is. Who does that sound like?

Tancredo endorsement

UPDATE: Marc Ambinder hears interesting whispers on this endorsement:

Will he endorse? Unclear. If he does, the betting is on Thompson or Romney, although advisers to both men expect the other to get it, if it’s gettable. Note that Bay Buchanan is a member of the LDS church and is said to be pushing Tancredo to endorse Romney as a way of repudiating Huckabee, somehow. We’ll see.

So the word is that Tom Tancredo is dropping out this afternoon. That’s the good news. There is some speculation that he will endorse, although Marc Ambinder, who is smarter than me, thinks that he will not.

Here are some thoughts:

1. Tanc only has two kinds of juice left.

1a. He can provide a good press day for someone. The question is whether he blows his wad today or after Christmas. If I am getting the endorsement and I don’t need a big kick of momentum, I probably want it after Christmas. On the other hand, a Thursday endorsement may be the last real story going into Christmas. Scheduled at 3pm EST to guarantee that it is talked about on the afternoon talk shows and it is hard to get other stories in. That sounds to me like an endorsement of someone else.

1b. He provides a potentially solid endorsement for the xenophobic crowd. Of course, Tancredo has real baggage (crazy mecca comments, crazy xenophobia, etc.), so mileage may vary.

2. Mitt Romney needs a good press day. I have been hearing that he will get the endorsement. The entire Colorado GOP establishment is backing Romney. Tancredo would actually be helping Romney in Iowa. And if the rumors about Steve King are true, it would seem that Romney would be the natural choice of King’s buddy Tanc. Of course, in the past, Tancredo’s campaign has accused Romney of supporting amnesty. Furthermore, if Tancredo believes that Romney will be the nominee, a very credible position right now, then Tancredo can be there for Romney at the right time.

3. Fred Thompson. If Tancredo wants to help make the Fred Thompson boom happen, here’s his chance. Fred’s numbers aren’t taking off too much. He would need it. Of course, Tancredo would be wondering if it would be wasted.

My gut is Romney. I have a lot of trouble figuring out what Thompson is telling people with interest groups, not bloggers, who are endorsing him.

Romney goes negative on Huckabee

The first negative TV ad of the cycle comes out with Mitt Romney attacking Mike Huckabee’s immigration position.  The commentariat and the Huckabee campaign have responded pretty sharply.

Jonathan Martin called it "Mitt desperation".

Chris Cilizza said:

First, it attempts to blur any differences between Romney and Huckabee on issues of importance to social conservative voters by noting that both men are pro-life and favor traditional marriage … Quickly segues into another issue of real import to conservatives — illegal immigration — and seeks to show how Romney fought benefits for illegals in Massachusetts while Huckabee backed proposals for in-state tuition and even scholarships for illegal immigrants in Arkansas. … Why is he doing it? The ad amounts to an acknowledgment by Romney that his once-wide lead in Iowa has evaporated. Being the first candidate to go negative is always a risky strategy, but it’s clear that the Romney campaign believes they have no choice in the matter.

Marc Ambinder:

It means their internal polls confirm what the public polls are saying. …
The decision to run this ad is not universally popular within Romney’s campaign, judging from some early e-mail traffic.

And the Huckabee campaign responds with the endorsement of an anti-immigrant hero:

Mike Huckabee, under fire for some of his immigration stands while governor of Arkansas, picked up an endorsement in Council Bluffs, Iowa, from the ultimate illegal immigration opponent: Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project, the group that has roamed the border for the last several years operating effectively as an independent border patrol.

Fox News: Romney mailer “is not true”

Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday called one of Mitt Romney’s mailers in New Hampshire "not true." Watch the video.

What is Romney’s strategy? Lie about everything through the primary? CNN caught him being dodgy yesterday. But the guy has the money to do it.

I don’t think that the Republican Party wants a guy who spends millions of his own money to spread lies about other Republicans. I just think that the party is more decent than that.

UPDATE: Quote of the day from Rudy Giuliani’s campaign:

"Mitt Romney’s already changed his own position on illegal immigration, so it should come as no surprise that he’s trying to change everybody else’s position as well."

Romney’s “Sanctuary Mansion” Problem: Honesty

My position on Mitt Romney has been that his flip-flopping and other things reveals a deeper honesty problem. They guy just doesn’t have any. From the immigrants on the front lawn "Sanctuary Mansion" story in today’s Boston Globe:

"After this same issue arose last year, I gave the company a second chance with very specific conditions," Romney said in the statement. "They were instructed to make sure people working for the company were of legal status. We personally met with the company in order to inform them about the importance of this matter. The owner of the company guaranteed us, in very certain terms, that the company would be in total compliance with the law going forward.

The business owner disagrees:

Romney’s account differs from that of landscape company owner Ricardo Saenz, who said that Romney didn’t press the issue of whether his workers were in the country illegally. Asked if the Romney household expressed reservations about rehiring him after last year’s story, he said, "Why would they have any problem?"

The guy has an honesty and a character problem.

Romney’s IA immigration piece and his strange cynicism

Jonathan Martin posted the PDF of Mitt Romney’s immigration contrast mail piece in Iowa. He compares himself to the other top 4 GOP candidates. But look at the dates.

The thing that strikes me…. Romney’s position on immigration is defended with 2 quotes from 2007 and one from 2003 and 2004.  His quotes for Rudy Giuliani involve one from 2007. And a bunch from earlier. His quotes for Fred Thompson involve a 2007 analysis of much earlier facts. And earlier quotes. And his quotes for Mike Huckabee and John McCain are not of recent vintage at all.

It is undeniable that Mitt Romney flip-flopped on a whole bunch of things. And a number of people are comfortable with that. What I find so cynical about Romney is that he attacks people for formerly holding positions that he formerly held. Again, "flip-flopping for me, but not for thee." Thompson, especially, no longer holds the views that he was advocating back in the day. Huckabee has shifted to the right, something that I have blasted him on.

But you know? Romney has more money, and has done better polling. My gut is that he is going to pull this off. Not because his ideas are better. Simply because he is running a better operation. (Hillary Clinton, of course, is doing the same thing) That makes me sad.

Cheap Date Conservatives

Mickey Kaus doesn’t buy John McCain’s new position on immigration:

I’m continually amazed by the Cheap Date Conservatives I run into who think McCain has somehow convincingly changed on immigration.

How does this not apply to the entire field? This seems to reflect something about the base. What McCain is doing is pretty clear. He is cutting a deal. People need the fence for psychological rather than practical reasons. I cite the McCain quote from the Vanity Fair story:

"By the way, I think the fence is least effective. But I’ll build the goddamned fence if they want it."

McCain’s assessment of the efficacy of the fence was confirmed by a commentator and seeming conservative hero:

that’s a technical problem. In this day and age, I would not think you would have to use bricks and mortar to get that job done. But we ought to do everything that we can to get it done to the extent that we can

That was Fred Thompson, just months before entering the race. Never mind Mike Huckabee’s and Mitt Romney’s outrageous flip-floppery on this issue. Or Romney’s general flip-floppery.

I have trouble understanding Mickey Kaus’s amazement. You have Romney supporters running around saying that their candidate, whose position isn’t even recognizably pro-life, is the candidate for pro-lifers. You have Thompson doing a complete 180 (540?) in a matter of months on immigration. People are giving the candidates free passes on this stuff. Why is Kaus so surprised this time? At least McCain is honest about it.

Handling economic instability…Immigration?

Joe Klein posits that the GOP may end up running on immigration in 2008:

It’s long been my belief that the GOP hole card in 2008 is going to be a rancid furriner-bashing anti-illegal-immigrant smear campaign. …  A few months ago, I asked Mitt Romney if he thought illegal immigration was a net economic plus or minus. He said…he wasn’t sure (but, of course, he knows that it’s a net plus).

As is typical for Klein, he only sees part of the problem. The Post made a similar point earlier in the week:

"This issue has real implications for the country. It captures all the American people’s anger and frustration not only with immigration, but with the economy," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and an architect of the Democratic congressional victories of 2006. "It’s self-evident. This is a big problem."

Republicans, sensing a major vulnerability, have been hammering Democrats, forcing Congress to face the question of illegal immigration on every bill they can find, from agriculture spending and housing assistance to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

Rahm is on to something here. If I am right that the economy is going to be the real issue, how are the parties likely to deal with the issue of economic instability? The Dems are already running on irresponsible anti-globalization populism and silly (in substance, but smart in politics) housing proposals. Not to mention tax increases. And, of course, universal health care.

What do the Republicans have? Well, so far optimism, which could end up looking like thin gruel. After all, Republicans aren’t optimistic about the economy. One way of trying to handle this is immigration. But will that work?

What are the swing states? There’s the rust belt (WV, OH, PA, and, maybe, MI). There’s the upper midwest (WI, MN, and IA). There’s Florida. And there’s the inner west (CO, NV, AZ, and NM) Of these, OH, FL, and the western states are all deeply exposed to the housing crisis. (MI is too, but that’s just the state-specific recession) With the exception of OH, these are all states in which latinos are a hugely important swing vote.

So the states that are most vulnerable to housing-related economic populism are also states in which the GOP needs the immigrant vote. That’s a nasty synergy. Maybe we shouldn’t attack on immigration? Maybe that just makes it worse.