Jon Stewart Truth-Squads John McCain on Immigration Reform

By Jerry Kammer, February 19, 2013

On Monday, this blog conducted a truth-squad exercise, citing Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) refutation of Univision anchor Jorge Ramos's assertions about the advanced state of border security. McCain correctly pointed out that despite improvements in the effort to stem illegal immigration "thousands and thousands" of illegal immigrants still make it across the border.

Today's blog is a tip of the hat to Jon Stewart's deft truth-squading on "The Daily Show" last week. Stewart shot down McCain's insistence that he has always supported "comprehensive immigration reform", provided that it was preceded by the establishment of border security.

Stewart did the job by juxtaposing a moment of McCain's present with a moment of McCain's past.

First, Stewart showed McCain at this year's State of the Union address. When President Obama said, "The time has come to pass comprehensive immigration reform", a smiling McCain enthusiastically joined the standing ovation.

Said Stewart, "I'm sure he's not doing that to pander to Hispanic votes. How'd he feel about that issue before he figured out they'll never win another national election without more of the Hispanic vote?"

That, of course, was a set-up line. It was followed by a shot of McCain's response during last year's State of the Union address when Obama said, "We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now." While other senators rose to applaud, the dissenting McCain remained anchored to his seat.

While it is true that McCain has long sought to boost security measures on the border, he has flip-flopped on the issue's relationship to reform legislation. In a 2006 speech on the Senate floor, McCain said, "I believe the only way to truly secure our border and protect our nation is through the enactment of comprehensive immigration reform."

However, as McCain sought re-election to the Senate in 2010, he placated his Republican base by insisting that border security — including completion of "the danged fence" — precede reform legislation. Now McCain supports a plan that would immediately provide provisional legal status that would lead to permanent legal status once the border has been determined to be secure.