The headline at The Trail — “Spitzer Drops License Plan, But Damage to Democrats is Done” — has rekindled hope among the wingnuts. I just want to point out that Gov. Spitzer’s policy, although unpopular in New York, had little impact on the recent state and local elections here, even though Republicans campaigned on it heavily.
I agree with Taylor Marsh —
It was clear to me after the debate that Clinton backing Spitzer was because she refused to push a fellow Democrat under a bus. I applauded that action, but knew this issue would evolve as it has. Equally clear was that backing Spitzer on driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants was going to cause her a lot of grief in the general election, but also in the primary because the press eats this subject up. It sells papers. Rumors are that some of Clinton’s team were furious with Spitzer for putting Clinton in this spot, so he pulled his immigration plans. It’s over, just in time for the CNN debate. …
… This is one of the most emotional issues there is and one easily opened to demagoguing. Democrats made Spitzer wake up, because those against his plan are the types who come out to vote. That’s the bottom line.
The emotional value of illegal immigration has two sides. It doesn’t matter which one is right during election season, because feelings are as they are and you can’t change an electorate who won’t listen. While intending to solve the challenge of undocumented or illegal immigrants, Spitzer finally acknowledged that you can’t move a country to follow your lead until you’ve convinced them you understand and respect their feelings. You also need a Democratic president to get it done.
Immigration is the number one right-wing red meat issue. The mere mention of the “I” word causes complete cerebral cortex failure in a wingnut, allowing the reptilian brain complex to take over. One might, then, forgive them for not understanding that a state’s driver’s license policy is not a matter to hang around the necks of candidates for national office. After all, lizards are not famous for their higher reasoning skills. I don’t let media off the hook, however.
She has merely tried to say that the problem needs a federal solution (a comprehensive immigration reform law), while trying to weasel out of making a plain statement of support or opposition to the Spitzer plan. She never wanted to say she didn’t support it (which might have alienated certain blocs of voters), so she kept saying she understands it.
And her new statement is quite consistent with her old statements — including the evasion. …
… She says as president she won’t support licenses for the undocumented, but that’s not quite being categorically against them. She says she’ll fight for comprehensive reform. And she’s merely supporting Spitzer’s withdrawal of the plan — she’s not saying it was wrong and he never should have put it forth.
Way too nuanced for lizards, of course.
Jeralyn of TalkLeft has been blogging about this issue for a while. A post from 2004 gives good reasons to allow illegal aliens to obtain driver’s licenses. More here. But Taylor’s right when she says “It doesnâ€™t matter which one is right during election season, because feelings are as they are and you canâ€™t change an electorate who wonâ€™t listen.”
Even so, immigration is not the number one concern for citizens at large. This issue is not the Achilles’ heel for Dems the wingnuts believe it to be.
Update: David Broder says the immigration issue could sink the Democrats. This is solid proof the Dems need not worry too much about it, since Bwana is as clueless as they come.