After having read or heard Barack Obama expressing his objections to Hillary Clinton’s answer to the debate question about N.Y. Gov. Spitzer’s driver’s license proposal, I finally asked Amaya Smith with his campaign for a statement of what Sen. Obama thinks about it. (That had been missing from the bits and pieces I had run into up to that time.) Here’s what Amaya said:
Barack Obama supports providing secure identifications to undocumented immigrants as a way to reduce fatalities on the roads, and give our law enforcement personnel the tools they need to fight crime and stop terrorism. However, this can only be a stopgap measure on the road to comprehensive immigration reform that includes securing our borders, fixing our broken immigration bureaucracy and bringing the 12 million undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and onto a responsible path towards citizenship. Gov Spitzer’s original plan is consistent with Senator Obama’s views on the issue.
To me, that didn’t sound wildly different from what Hillary had said, so to refresh my memory, I went back to fetch it:
"You know, Tim, this is where everybody plays ‘gotcha.’ It makes a lot
of sense… what is the governor supposed to do? He is dealing with a
serious problem. We have failed, and George Bush has failed. Do I think
this is the best thing for any governor to do? No. But do I understand
the sense of real desperation, trying to get a handle on this —
remember, in New York; we want to know who’s in New York, we want
people to come out of the shadows. He’s making an honest effort to do
it; we should have passed immigration reform.
OK, so Obama’s for it, but has reservations, seeing it as no more than a stopgap. Hillary sees reasons why the governor would do it, and doesn’t want to criticize, but in the end has reservations too strong to be for it. Which is where I am, only I’m not offended by Obama’s position. It makes sense, too. Seems to me like we have two reasonable people here, both of whom see the pros and cons, but they end up a few degrees away from each other, on different sides of a line.
I end up on Hillary’s side. I see how licenses could be a way of bringing underground people out into the open and tracking them — not to mention making New York’s roads somewhat safer. But in the end, I think there are too many negatives to granting the licenses, including homeland security problems. And ultimately, the Congress should have passed the comprehensive immigration reform bill, which would accomplish the goals Obama says he’s aiming for.
If there were a scale with zero being the position of Lou Dobbs (completely against), and 10 being Spitzer (completely for), it seems like Hillary’s a 4, and Obama’s a 6.5 or 7. Not exactly polar opposites.
But then again, I don’t understand the passions this issue generates. Robert Ariail — who has upcoming cartoons both making fun of poor Dennis and hitting Hillary the way Obama is (if anyone still thought Robert marched in step with the rest of us, that should settle it) — and I just had another discussion/argument about the issue this morning, with little ground given by either of us. Robert’s a fence-and-deportation guy; I’m for the defunct McCain/Graham bill.
P.S. — I had lunch with Amaya and Kevin Griffis back on Oct. 18. Nothing eventful, aside from the fact that the maitre d’ had to shunt us off to a private room because although Kevin wore the obligatory sport coat, he wore in with jeans. The purpose of the lunch was for Kevin to introduce me to Amaya, a mission which he accomplished. Consider this to be my official, belated contact report.