The New Sheriff in Town

By Stephen Steinlight on June 25, 2009

Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, is point man for President Obama on immigration, riding herd on the Big Push for "comprehensive immigration reform." According to members of Congress committed to this unpopular policy, the campaign will be launched sometime in the fall. There was a bipartisan meeting today to discuss what's possible in the current Congress, but it includes Rep. Anthony Weiner so it's hard to take that one too seriously, and there was another the day before for amnesty advocates. But don't place too much faith in the time frame. Given this president's vast policy agenda, with other priorities easily eclipsing this one, talking about beginning this debate in the fall is likely just another sop to the "immigration reform" crowd with little sincerity behind it. And this one's easy for the President: all he has to do is sit back and let them cherish and mouth their delusions.

In an embarrassingly transparent effort to pander to his opponents – those of us that believe in the rule of law, giving preference to Americans in the job market as the nation hemorrhages 400,000 jobs a month, and such unfashionable things as national borders – Chuck is doing a Buffalo Bill rodeo show demonstrating his commitment to toughness in general and tough law enforcement in particular. He wants to be seen as the new sheriff in town, and as one tough hombre.

To do that he's decided to go populist, trying so hard to convince the unwashed majority he gets what bugs us that he's even adopting our lingo. (See also "Schumer's Marketing Lesson for 'Comprehensive Reform'" and "We Promise to Keep Enforcing the Law, Honest!") In "Senate Democrats Address Immigration," Chuck sneers he's had enough with all that bull about "undocumented workers." He tells us, "Illegal immigration is wrong – plain and simple." And, nope, he ain't gun shy of all those civil liberty types – though he knows how wily they can be. He's pushing for a biometric national identity card – a great idea that might come to fruition in a decade or more – even though, he tells us, "I'm sure the civil libertarians will object…but we’re going to have to do it. It's the only way." Showing he’s got his finger on our gritty populist pulses, Schumer adds, "The American people will never accept immigration reform unless they truly believe their government is committed to ending future illegal immigration."

But Sheriff Chuck: What about past illegal immigration (to the tune of 11-12 million, with some 7 million holding jobs unemployed Americans could use) or present illegal immigration? You and I both know your measures not only beg that question – because the entire purpose of this Buffalo Bill show about future enforcement is gulling us into legalizing them – but surely you don't think we're so stupid as to believe that a national identity card and all your other macho plans for controlling illegal immigration won't take years and years to implement, given those pesky civil libertarians or those right-wing guys that already see the black helicopters in every new form of government intrusion.

I don't know if Chuck's new diction – finally denotatively correct if employed in the service of mendacity – is the product of a mini-course on method acting (if you want to persuade those rednecks, act like one!) or whether he's infiltrating our ranks by cleverly aping our speech patterns. Am I the only one who thinks it might be a good idea to take this guy to the Lieutenant, in the tradition of World War II movies, and test him by asking if he knows who won the 1939 World Series?