John McCain’s incoherence on immigration policy has quickly gone from problematic to humiliating. The poor guy has spun himself into a box he can’t seem to get out of.
Just Thursday, in a relatively high-profile speech in California, McCain went back to the position he’d given up to win the Republican nomination. McCain boasted about having worked with Ted Kennedy and said, “[W]e must enact comprehensive immigration reform. We must make it a top agenda item.” McCain went on to take an anti-deportation position on immigrants already in the U.S. who entered the country illegally, saying “they are also God’s children, and we have to do it in a human and compassionate fashion.”
Soon after, far-right activists were apoplectic, especially given McCain’s repeated assurances during the primaries that he’d given on a “comprehensive” approach to immigration reform. So, the day after his speech, McCain reversed course yet again.
McCain’s campaign, however, quickly pandered to the right wing. The National Review’s Jim Geraghty reports that the campaign said McCain’s statement on the priority of immigration reform was “poorly worded“:
“Team McCain tells me the senator’s comments were poorly worded. There’s been no discussion within the campaign of altering their stance on illegal immigration, and as far as everyone on the campaign is concerned, the policy is still, ’secure the border first.’”
This doesn’t make a lick of sense. On Thursday, McCain was talking to a group of business leaders who liked McCain’s original approach to comprehensive legislation, and the senator sought input on how best to rally support for his own bill (which he now says he’d vote against). On Friday, McCain told opponents of his immigration bill that he didn’t mean any of what he’d just said.
This is more than just a shameless flip-flop; it’s quickly becoming a character flaw. He’ll shovel whichever nonsense he has to say to please which ever audience happens to be in front of him at the time.
For those keeping score at home, McCain does not support “comprehensive immigration reform.”
Nearly all of these, by the way, come from the last six months.
Truth be told, in terms of my issue priorities, immigration reform is relatively low. But I know for Republicans, it’s among the most important issues, if not the most important domestic policy issue. And yet, here’s the Republican nominee, running on a platform of consistency, shifting with the wind and changing his position from day to day.
I get the sense the media establishment is prepared to give McCain a pass on this, but are Republican voters?