I watched the "historic" debate between Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama last night. The immigration issue was discussed in more detail than in previous debates, especially previous Republican debates.
Interestingly, Hillary Clinton's immigration positions are practically identical to those of Republican presidential contender John McCain. There is, as they say, not a dime's worth of difference between the two. They even use the same false dilemma—you either have to deport illegals in mass or put the vast majority on a path to citizenship—to justify a massive amnesty. They should both know that "attrition by enforcement"—cutting off the job magnet at the employer level will, over a period of several years, force illegals to go home voluntarily at their own expense and discourage others from coming—is the principal position of the conservative Republicans. But both Clinton and McCain continue to demonstrate the unprincipled nature of their "compassion" by demagoging about the impracticality of rounding up 12-14 million illegal immigrants. Nobody but a few call-ins to talk-radio shows is calling for that. Clinton's dissembling about fines, back taxes, and learning English—eye-wash provisions with no teeth and plentiful opportunities to avoid—comes right out of the McCain-Kennedy shamnesty bill. Neither seems to be concerned about the fiscal and demographic disaster likely to result from such an amnesty. It may sound reasonable to those who know little about the subject, but U.S. immigration policy should not be based on clueless ignorance of the consequences of amnesty and other bad policies.
There is one aspect of the immigration crisis, however, where Hillary Clinton's thinking is superior to that of John McCain. She realizes and had the decency to admit that many American workers and their families are being hurt by our open door immigration policies. To my knowledge, neither McCain nor Bush has ever admitted that. She is at least a listener.
Republicans have put themselves in a position where the Democratic frontrunner is slightly to the right of the Republican frontrunner on a very important national issue—an issue that should have belonged to Republicans big time.
Obama is to the left of McCain but not very much. Obama probably knows better, but he stated that any association of unemployment, especially of blacks, with immigration is just scapegoating immigrants. This is an even more dramatic form of Hispandering than McCain's denial that American workers are being hurt.
I could not help but wonder as I watched the debate between Clinton and Obama how McCain would do against either. We Republicans may not like Hillary's policy ideas or style, but any objective person will have to admit that she is very intelligent and highly articulate. She overmatches Obama in this regard but not by an extraordinary degree. Both Clinton and Obama have law degrees from two of the top law schools in the United States. McCain is a U.S Naval Academy graduate, and by no means just anyone gets accepted there. McCain's acceptance at Annapolis, however, may have been influenced by the fact that both his father and grandfather were high ranking Navy admirals and graduates of the Naval Academy. Senator John McCain graduated in the bottom five of his class of 899, ranking 894th. His later record as a Navy pilot was flawed by foolish mishaps in training and with the fleet. He never made admiral. McCain has also demonstrated a well documented tendency for four-letter-word flavored temper outbursts when frustrated, irritated, or opposed. That may be true of Hillary, too, but tonight she demonstrated she could keep her cool.
Hence John McCain might not be much of a match for Hillary Clinton in a debate, Neither do I see him doing especially well against Barack Obama. John McCain has become the Republican frontrunner largely on the basis of trial polls against Clinton and Obama. The most frequent argument I hear from McCain supporters in the media is that he is the best one to beat Hillary. Many Republican voters have been ignoring issues and have been oblivious to some harsh realities in McCain's background that will erode his standing in the polls as the media focuses on him over the next nine months, and the voters learn more about his personality and his positions on important issues. Knowledgeable conservatives are already in a state of revolt.
Far from being the most likely Republican to succeed against Clinton or Obama, McCain may have the highest risk of losing in November of any candidate that entered the Republican primaries.
Personally, I would not vote for McCain, Clinton, or Obama in any election. Unless some miracle knocks McCain out of the Republican nomination, we are headed for national disaster no matter who wins.