And I just want to remind you of something that you may have forgotten: the reason Barack Obama was able to overtake Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic nomination. What was the issue that tripped her up and gave Obama the opening to look like the sensible, moderate person?
But it was a question about driver's licenses for “undocumented workers'' – the politically neutral terminology for “illegal aliens'' which she prefers – that created the most trouble for Clinton during last night's two-hour debate of the Democrats staged in Philadelphia....We know all about Spitzer trying to "fill the vacuum," but let's not digress into the subject of prostitution in this post.
New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer has proposed giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, NBC moderator Tim Russert reminded Clinton. “You told the Nashua, N.H., editorial board it makes a lot of sense,'' he said. “Why does it make a lot of sense to give an illegal immigrant a driver's license? ''
“ Well, what Gov. Spitzer is trying to do is fill the vacuum left by the failure of this administration to bring about comprehensive immigration reform,'' she said. “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,'' she said. “The possibility of them having an accident that harms themselves or others is just a matter of the odds. It's probability. So what Gov. Spitzer is trying to do is to fill the vacuum.Ahem. I'm trying not to get distracted!
“I believe we need to get back to comprehensive immigration reform because no state, no matter how well-intentioned, can fill this gap,'' Clinton continued. “There needs to be federal action on immigration reform. ''Damn! I miss Tim Russert! Here's video. I love the point — at 2:53 — when she complains that "everybody" — i.e. Tim — is playing "gotcha." Because he got her. And that's the moment when she loses.
“Does anyone here believe an illegal immigrant should not have a driver's license?'' Russert asked the other six Democrats assembled on stage.
After that point, it looks as though they are moving on to the next topic: protecting children — children! — from — horrors! — the Internet. We got a laugh watching the now-disgraced John Edwards scramble to: Children? Protect children? I would. But he shifts back to the immigration topic, not to take an actual position himself, but to attack Hillary for taking more than one position, and after all the years of "double-talk from Bush and from Cheney... America deserves us to be straight.'' (Yeah, be straight, John. Tell it to the jury.)
And then Barack Obama gets his chance. At 4:10, the moderator (Brian Williams) calls on him: "Senator Obama, why are you nodding your head?"
“Well, I was confused on Sen. Clinton's answer,'' Obama said. “I can't tell whether she was for it or against it, and I do think that is important.That's obviously total mush, but he sounds calm saying it. He's pushed to take a position and — caught — he says that Spitzer has "the right idea... because there is a public safety concern":
“You know, one of the things that we have to do in this country is to be honest about the challenges that we face,'' Obama said. “Immigration is a difficult issue. But part of leadership is not just looking backwards and seeing what's popular, or trying to gauge popular sentiment. It's about setting a direction for the country, and that's what I intend to do as president.''
"We can make sure that drivers who are illegal come out of the shadows, that they can be tracked, that they are properly trained, and that will make our roads safer. That doesn't negate the need for us to reform illegal immigration.''So he agrees with Hillary's first position. I had forgotten that. I can't remember how this issue played out and why it hurt Hillary so much and helped Obama. Maybe it was simply that she lost her cool and sounded dishonest, and he lucked into an opportunity to seem solid and competent.