MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to immigration. Last week this is what all the newspapers said. “The Senate’s compromise immigration bill is forcing the presidential candidates to confront a divisive issue. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson praised the bill. ‘This legislation makes a good start” towards “re-securing our Southern border.’” A few days later this headline appeared. “Hispanic presidential hopeful confronts immigration debate. On Wednesday Richardson said that after read[ing] the immigration bill in detail, he decided to oppose it, saying the measure placed too great a burden on immigrants, tearing apart families that wanted to settle in the U.S., creating a permanent tier of second-class immigrant workers and financing a border fence. This is fundamentally flawed in its current form and I would oppose it. We need bipartisanship, we also need legislation that’s compassionate. I’m not sure this is it.’” How can you be for it and 72 hours later against it?
GOV. RICHARDSON: Well, no, this is what happened. I was announcing for president, and the day before, I saw a summary of a bill that had been proposed in the Senate. ... The bill is then presented, and I read it the next day, and it contained some problems.
He realized after reading the the 300+ page bill that his initial reaction had been wrong? What a flip-flopper!
(Of course, I don't actually believe Richardson read the bill. I'm sure he just heard more about it. And the reasons he says he changed his mind — e.g., the bill cuts back on extended family reunification for legal immigrants — are mostly bad ones. But, this controversy over a politician changing his mind on an incredibly complex piece of proposed legislation after 72 hours of reflection illustrates the jaw-dropping irresponsibility of the prestige press when it comes to immigration. You aren't supposed to think about immigration — that's the mark of a yahoo. You are just supposed to instantaneously react emotionally in order to show whether your are a Good Person or a Bad Person.)
MR. RUSSERT: But let’s go through the resume a little bit. First, there’s governor of New Mexico. As you well know, they rank states in a whole variety of categories from one being the best, 50th being the worst. This is New Mexico’s scorecard, and you are the governor. Percent of people living below the poverty line, you’re 48. Percent of children below, 48. Median family income, 47. People without health insurance, 49. Children without health insurance, 46. Teen high school dropouts, 47. Death rate due to firearms, 48. Violent crime rate, 46. You’re the very bottom of all those statistics of all 50 states, and you’re the governor for five years.
GOV. RICHARDSON: Well, Tim, let me just say that we’ve made enormous progress in all of those areas. [More]
He's been governor for five whole years and he hasn't yet turned turn New Mexicans into Minnesotans? What a loser!
The press is obsessed with political horse races and bored with long-term realities. Yet, the pervasive, unchanging mediocrity of New Mexico sheds important light on the issue of the day, immigration.
Despite being one of the four border states, there is remarkably little immigration from Old Mexico into New Mexico. Why not? In large part, because it's already filled with Latinos, many of who trace their ancestry in New Mexico back before the U.S. seized it in the Mexican-American war. After 159 years in the United States of America, they still haven't much assimilated to American standards. What does that say about the prospects for assimilation of newcomers from Mexico?