I have only been a Democrat for just a few hours, and already I feel the need to defend Hillary. Brace yourselves.
Hillary is getting a bum rap for this:
On the blogs and elsewhere, it is being played out as if this is more evidence of Hillary engaging in doublespeak, or flip-flopping, or whatever, and, quite frankly, it is bullshit. Kevin Drum goes so far as to call it “unusually spineless.” Hillary’s position is quite clear- we have a mess, what Spitzer is doing makes sense, and I may not like it and it may not be the best solution and it is certainly not without flaws, but in the void created by the lack of action by Congress and this administration, I understand why he is doing it. Read the transcript, and get out of ‘Gotcha’ mode:
Clinton: Well, what Governor Spitzer is trying to do is fill the vacuum left by the failure of this administration to bring about comprehensive immigration reform. We know in New York we have several million at any one time who are in New York illegally. They are undocumented workers. They are driving on our roads. The possibility of them having an accident that harms themselves or others is just a matter of the odds. It’s probability.
So what Governor Spitzer is trying to do is to fill the vacuum. I believe we need to get back to comprehensive immigration reform because no state, no matter how well intentioned, can fill this gap. There needs to be federal action on immigration reform.***
Clinton: Well, I just want to add, I did not say that it should be done, but I certainly recognize why Governor Spitzer is trying to do…
(Unknown): Wait a minute…
Clinton: And we have failed. We have failed.
Dodd: No, no, no. You said — you said yes…
Dodd: … you thought it made sense to do it.
Clinton: No, I didn’t, Chris. But the point is, what are we going to do with all these illegal immigrants who are driving…
Dodd: That’s a legitimate issue. But driver’s license goes too far, in my view.
Clinton: Well, you may say that, but what is the identification?
If somebody runs into you today who is an undocumented worker…
Dodd: There’s ways of dealing with that.
Dodd: This is a privilege, not a right.
Clinton: Well, what Governor Spitzer has agreed to do is to have three different licenses, one that provides identification for actually going onto airplanes and other kinds of security issues, another which is another ordinary driver’s license, and then a special card that identifies the people who would be on the road, so…
That isn’t doublespeak. That isn’t trying to have your cake and eat it, too. That isn’t the classic Clinton triangulation that infuriates us all so much. It is someone recognizing that there are realities on the ground that supercede simple responses that may make one or another political faction happy, or make a good soundbite, but won’t deal with the problem at all. You would think you all had had enough of rigid and reflexive stupidity the past seven years and ‘solutions’ that work great in fantasyland (“The war will pay for itself!”and “We will be greeted as liberators!”), and would appreciate someone being, well, sensible. Sometimes you don’t have a magic answer that makes you 100% happy.
I understand the need for the candidates to put pressure on Clinton, and believe me, I am one of the foremost believers that Hillary will say or do anything to get elected. But in this case, the pressure Dodd and Obama are putting on Clinton is not only unfair, it is simplistic and stupid and plays right into the narrative the idiots in the media love to tell (and I can guarantee they will). Hell, poor Bob Somerby will probably have to spend a week documenting the idiotic Hardball reactions to this one segment.
This kind of crap is self-defeating, and as much as I like Dodd and dislike Hillary, I think he was wrong on this. I recognize the real value he is bringing to the current Democratic field and the national debate, and were it not for him, none of the other candidates probably would have come out against Mukasey (in what we all know is Kabuki dance that will end predictably- only the candidates running and a few safe seats will oppose his nomination, the rest will fold after the “reasonable” Republicans back down. Already Graham and Specter are doing the predictable walkback, so predictable that Tim even has a category here called Spectering).
However, in this case, the Democrats were too overzealous in their attacks on Hillary. The simple fact of the matter is there is no good answer to the mess of illegal immigration, Spitzer is trying to do something, anything, to gain some order, and Hillary may not like it (I certainly don’t), but recognizes the value in what he is attempting to do.
That isn’t double-talk or flip-flopping. It is called dealing with reality. And if you have a better idea to deal with Spitzer’s problem, by all means, spit it up.
*** Update ***
Christ. Jane at FDL says basically the same damned thing at roughly the same time. I guess I am one of the Jane Hamsher’s of the left now and the assimilation was quicker and less painful than I thought it would be. I need a drink.