Put Up or Shut Up
In case you missed it, Fox News has a transcript of Arizona governor Jan Brewer’s appearance on Greta van Susteren’s show yesterday. It makes for some interesting reading, as it sheds a lot of light on Washington’s response — or rather, non-response — to Brewer’s pleas for help and dialogue on the border situation down there. Brewer also throws down the gauntlet in a way few other pols have, admonishing the administration to do their jobs and enforce federal immigration laws that have been on the books for decades. In this day and age, I guess that’s too much to ask.
For those who are unclear on the Arizona law, it’s not a radical departure from federal statutes; it simply makes it a state crime to be present in Arizona illegally (it was already a federal crime), a move that allows local and state police to act as enforcement agents. The only reason this was necessary is because the federal government has refused to enforce the existing federal laws. By enacting their own legislation, Arizona has effectively told the feds to put up or shut up.
From a political standpoint, this is very useful because it forces the Obama Administration into a corner. They have to take some kind of stand, either by giving in to Arizona’s demands (unlikely) or by taking them to court (risky). In the meanwhile, though, the president is pursuing a scorched-earth policy of demonizing the law as racist and a violation of civil rights–essentially trying to shut down the conversation in the hopes they can bully Arizona into backing down. The reason for this, in my view, is simple: They’re scared that the law will hold up if challenged. Moreover, a nasty court battle would expose in a very public way the utter failure of the federal government to enforce its own immigration laws, not to mention the costs border states have paid as a result of illegal immigration. Trust me, a lawsuit is the last thing the administration wants.
May I make a modest proposal? President Obama should have a summit of sorts with Governor Brewer–perhaps over a couple of beers, like he did with his buddy Skip Gates and Officer Jim Crowley. Except that this time, the summit will be televised live for everybody to see. Obama could raise his concerns and Governor Brewer could address them, pointing to the specifics of the Arizona law that protect individual rights. She could also ask him some pointed questions about her concerns, and find out what the federal government intends to do about border security. Get it all out in the open. Then let the people decide who has the better argument.
I’m sure Governor Brewer would welcome the opportunity–but something tells me that Obama wouldn’t. In any case, the governor should give it a try. When the President turns her down, we’ll all know who has something to hide.