Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tower of Babble at the Border

Fittingly enough for a bi-lingual issue, the debate over Arizona's arrest-an-immigrant law is becoming a confusion of tongues with ideologues speaking in unfamiliar ways.

While some Democrats unsurprisingly invoke Nazi Germany and apartheid, Republicans from Jeb Bush and Karl Rove to Tea Party hero Marco Rubio are groping for less flamboyant language to distance themselves from the effort to turn the American Melting Pot into a Grand Canyon of division.

The Bush dynasty's heir-in-waiting complains about its "unintended consequences" (to a moderate presidential candidate, among others, no doubt). "It's difficult," says Bush III, "to imagine how you're going to enforce this law. It places a significant burden on local law enforcement and you have civil liberties issues that are significant."

W's Turd Blossom finds "some constitutional problems with the bill," while Axis of Evil phrasemaker Michael Gerson calls it "understandable--and dreadful," huffing that "chaos at the border is not an argument for states to take control of American immigration policy."

Post-Bush Republicans are having even more trouble distancing themselves from the Arizona crackdown without attracting anti-incumbent ire.

Lindsey Graham flatly calls it "unacceptable" and "un-American," but his best Senate friend, John McCain, facing conservative primary opposition in his reelection campaign there, stalls for time. “I haven’t had a chance to look at all the aspects," says the former Maverick, "but I do understand why the Legislature would act.”

The most delicate balancing act is that of Rubio, a Cuban-American running for the Senate in Florida as the Hard Right's poster boy, who projects his own dilemma onto Arizona police, finding the law puts them in an “incredibly difficult position” and that it could "unreasonably single out people who are here legally, including many American citizens.[Zinger Alert] Throughout American history and throughout this administration we have seen that when government is given an inch it takes a mile.”

Whether such linguistic judo will work is doubtful, but one unintended consequence of the new Arizona law is that it is attracting bipartisan opposition in a time when politicians who actually think about what they say are rare--a relief from the monolithic tower of babble that Mitch McConnell and John Boehner keep building on every other issue in Washington.

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