Just days after praising Arizona's draconian immigration law as a "good tool" and 24 hours after calling on President Obama to immediately "dispatch of 3,000 National Guard troops to our border," John McCain Saturday admitted he's not sure his state's crackdown is even legal. Which means that the man who was for comprehensive immigration reform before he was against before he was for it and then against again now isn't sure what he believes.
Rolling out his 10-point plan for border security at an Arizona town hall meeting, McCain suggested he may have suffered from a case of premature endorsement last week. As the Arizona Daily Star reported:
Although McCain had sounded a note of support for the bill, calling it a "good tool" for law enforcement, he stopped short of fully endorsing the measure. "I haven't had a chance to look at all the aspects, but I do understand why the Legislature would act," he said. Even though it wasn't clear to him "whether all of it is legal or not," he said state lawmakers "acted out of frustration because the federal government didn't do its job."
That hedging a far cry from McCain's sound and fury last week.
Hard-pressed on his right flank by J.D. Hayworth, John McCain last Monday broke his silence on the new law. He endorsed the measure as a "good tool" because, among other things, "drivers of cars with illegals in them that are intentionally causing accidents on the freeways."
Then at a Phoenix press conference Friday, McCain defended his state's harsh DWH ("doing things while Hispanic") law which President Obama deemed "misguided":
"If the president doesn't like what the Arizona Legislature and governor may be doing, then I call on the president to immediately call for the dispatch of 3,000 National Guard troops to our border and mandate that 3,000 additional Border Patrol [officers] be sent to our border as well...And that way, then the state of Arizona will not have to enact legislation which they have to do because of the federal government's failure to carry out its responsibilities, which is to secure the borders."
Of course, back in September 2006, John McCain praised his colleagues who "rejected the argument for an 'enforcement first' strategy that focuses on border security only, an ineffective and ill-advised approach." McCain the went from co-sponsoring comprehensive reform legislation with Ted Kennedy in 2007 to telling Republican primary voters in January 2008 he would not vote for his own proposal because "The people want the borders secured first." But with the GOP nomination in hand, McCain told Hispanic voters in July 2008 to trust him because, "I remain committed to fair, practical and comprehensive immigration reform."
Alas, that was then and this is now. As Dana Bash of CNN described John McCain's latest contortionist act:
"He used to be [in favor of comprehensive immigration reform], but not any more. In fact, if you look over the years, he has had various positions dealing with this. And it really depended on what election battle he was in at the time."