The Washington Post's Insult Artist, Part 2: Dana Milbank on Russell Pearce's Immigration Views

By Stanley Renshon and Stanley Renshon on May 1, 2012

Critics of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his views on legal and illegal immigration, like the Washington Post's Dana Milbank, are busy perfecting novel methods with which to impugn his character and positions. Consider Milbank's reverse double character smear, aided by a mischaracterized policy parallelism, and topped by a determined, and successful, effort at caricature.

The object of his rhetorical gymnastics is Mitt Romney, but his vehicle is Russell Pearce, the former president of the Arizona Senate. Mr. Pearce — who is described as the driving force behind the Arizona law that is now in front of the Supreme Court — volunteered to testify before a rump Senate Judiciary subcommittee, answering questions for over an hour from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Mr. Milbank writes that the "Democrats, seeking to use this loose cannon against his own side, called Pearce to testify Tuesday before Congress on the eve of the Supreme Court's review of the Arizona law."

And, Milbank informs his readers; "he handled himself in just the manner Democrats had hoped." How did he do that? Essentially Mr. Pearce argued that our immigration laws should be enforced.

It was in the snarky treatment of the questions posed to Mr. Pearce about "racial profiling", however, that Mr. Milbank's advocacy and ignorance found their epiphany. During Pearce's testimony, Sen. Schumer's legion of aides held up large cardboard posters of various items, including a page from the policy training manual offering guidance to police when asking those they've stopped for cause to produce documentation of their status.

There were a number of factors that might be considered, including the age and gender of persons in the car, whether the driver was traveling alone or in a group, whether the vehicle was overcrowded, dress, demeanor, unusual behavior, and refusal to answer questions.

The list is long, but Sen. Schumer focused in on one — dress — repeatedly asking Mr. Pearce "What does an illegal dress like?

Mr. Pearce patiently -- and I do wish to stress that word -- explained to the senator that this single item was part of a much larger list that police were trained to take into account in any kind of stop, including those specifically designed for the Arizona law. He further explained, quietly and more than once, that this training manual list had been developed with the administration's ICE officers. (Mr. Pearce's statement begins at the 75:46 mark in this video of the hearing. All the written testimony from the hearing is here.)

All of this was no avail as Sen. Schumer, having made what he considered a telling point, moved on.

Mr. Milbank's emphasis on the point in his opinion piece suggests he strongly believes the use of "dress" is a sure-fire expression of racial profiling.

Therefore I was surprised and dismayed to see him use exactly the same tactics against Mr. Pearce. He writes, after ridiculing all of Mr. Pearce's views, that "Enhancing the effect, his tie bore the 'Don't Tread on Me' emblem of the tea party".

Before reading Mr. Milbank, I hadn't realized you could tell that a person was a racist by looking at the tie he wore.

Former Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce's Q&A with Sen. Chuck Schumer: Caricature and Reality