Department of Preening Editorials (2): The Issue of Specificity

By Stanley Renshon and Stanley Renshon on October 2, 2012
Editor's Note: View a listing of the entire series

The Washington Post's editorial department is up in arms that Mitt Romney has not put forward a detailed blueprint "to solve … America's broken immigration system".

That's right. Not only has he failed to put forward a "detailed blueprint", but he has also not presented one that will "solve" all of the issues of "America's broken immigration system".

It follows therefore, at least in the mind of whoever wrote the editorial, that the former governor "has made clear that he really has no policy at all and indicated that a Romney presidency would turn 'a blind eye' to problem".

Really? So if, as a candidate, you don't present the equivalent of a specific legislative proposal, that means you really don't have any policy and that you won't deal with the problem should you gain office?

That's hard to believe primarily because it isn't true.

Mr. Romney made that very clear in his Univision interview.

In that interview with Jorge Ramos and Elena Salinas, he was asked about the president's "deferred action" administrative initiative and said,

Well, let me begin by talking about what we do for our legal immigration system. I will make sure that people know that they can come to this country in a transparent and clear way. They shouldn't have to hire lawyers to find out how to get in this country legally. I want to also make sure that instead of having our diversity visas offered, we provide instead the chance to pull families together. I want that to be the favored system for immigration. I also believe that we should have temporary work visas consistent with the needs of the employment community and by the way, if the student does so well that they get an advanced degree, I'd staple the green card to their diploma. Now, for those that are already here and that are undocumented, that were brought here by their parents and therefore are illegal aliens in this country, my view is that we should put in a place a permanent solution.

It is very tempting at this point, and it would be thoroughly legitimate, to point out that there a obvious double standard at work here. President's Obama's failure to present any kind of immigration plan, detailed or otherwise, in his first term or as a candidate for a second term, is not taken similarly to task. Instead he is lauded as having "injected some sanity into the policy without actually fixing it" by bypassing Congress and public debate through an administrative fiat of dubious legality.

Elsewhere in the editorial the president is lauded for having "embraced the goal of enacting legislation that recognizes the U.S. economy relies on the seven million undocumented immigrants in the labor force."

Embracing the goal! Now that's what I call specificity.

The Post criticizes Mr. Romney as follows: "And what would he do about the undocumented youngsters — as many as 1.7 million of them — whom Mr. Obama has made eligible for temporary legal status? Mr. Romney isn't saying."

Except that he is.

The Univision hosts pressed Mr. Romney about this very point:

Salinas: But, with all due respect, you are reluctant to provide details on a permanent solution that perhaps signifies you are evading the question.

What would you tell Hispanic voters right now regarding this important Issue? All the DREAMERs want to know: If you become president, are you going to deport them or not? Yes or no.

Romney: … I said in my primary campaign time and, again, we're not going to round up 12 million people that include the kids and the parents, and have everyone deported. Our system isn't to deport people. We need to provide a long-term solution and I described the fact that I would be in support of a program that said the people who serve in our military could be permanent residents of the United States. Marco Rubio was working on legislation which he called, I believe, the Dream and Achieve Act. It had a number of features that said kids that get higher education could become permanent residents of the United States. But this is something that's going to have to be worked out by the Republicans and Democrats together. I will lead a program that gets us to a permanent solution as opposed to what was done by the president which, with a few months before the election, he puts in place something which is temporary, which does not solve this issue. I will solve it on a permanent basis consistent with those principles.

So Mr. Romney would support a policy or legislative proposal that would give legal status to illegal aliens brought here as children by their parents if they served in the military and he appears open to extend that group to those engaged in some form of higher education, as Marco Rubio's views appeared to embrace, but the candidate has not committed himself yet.

Why not? Well, one good reason is that Romney appears to believe that specific policies are "something that's going to have to be worked out by the Republicans and Democrats together", in short on a bipartisan basis.

But wait! How could he do this? Especially, "while not offending the Republican base, whose inflexible opposition to most reforms combines nativism with economic incoherence".

Ah …. now the Post comes, belatedly, to what it considers the heart of the problem, but in a somewhat misleading way.

It is not Republican opposition to "most reforms"; after all Gov. Romney and Sen. Rubio each have embraced some form of immigration status regularization for those brought here illegally as children. And Mr. Romney is already on record as saying that if a foreign student gets "an advanced degree, I'd staple the green card to their diploma."

So what exactly is it that the Post criticizes Mr. Romney and the GOP base for? The Post editorial makes it quite clear: "the main hurdle to a meaningful deal on immigration — one that would tighten enforcement and acknowledge reality by extending some form of amnesty to 11 million undocumented immigrants — is the uniform opposition of congressional Republicans, including those who once favored such an approach."

Mr. Romney does not support that and therein, according to the editorial, lies the essence of his "incoherence".

Next: Department of Preening Editorials (3): Romney Does Not Support Amnesty for 11 Million Illegal Aliens