Washington Post’s Michael Gerson: Accommodation of anger

"What is it about the immigration issue that brings out the worst in politicians?

Neither Mitt Romney nor Rick Perry has a history of being an immigration hard-liner.Romney supported George W. Bush’s attempt at comprehensive immigration reform in 2005, which included a (difficult) path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. When I attended a dinner with Perry during his 2010 campaign for reelection as Texas governor, he was particularly passionate about the need for Republican outreach to Hispanics.

Yet Romney has attacked Perry for allowing educational benefits in Texas for the children of undocumented immigrants — calling this policy 'a magnet to draw illegals into the state.' Perry has responded that Romney’s Massachusetts health-care reform permitted the medical treatment of undocumented immigrants, which a Perry campaign spokesman calls an 'illegal immigration magnet.' In this exchange, both campaigns have managed — extending the metaphor — to be repellent.

It is one thing to debate techniques of enforcement along the United States’ southern border. Most of the Republican candidates seem to prefer construction of a physical wall — a public-works program of questionable utility that would make the Great Pyramid seem a minor, shovel-ready project in comparison. Herman Cain wants the barrier electrified. Michele Bachmann proposes two walls, just in case. Perry, who knows something about the vastness of Texas, seems flummoxed by the absurdity of the whole idea.'  Read more …

 

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