Yesterday, there was footage of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) holding a town hall meeting in his state and getting bitterly challenged on immigration -- and bluntly blasting back. He received a lot of praise for being willing to defend immigration reform.
Personally, while I do applaud him for facing critics and telling them off, I'd admire his efforts oh-so-much more if he wasn't forced to address an anger he himself helped create.
Once an advocate for immigration reform, Sen. McCain completely reversed his earlier views in recent years, pandering to the radical far right in an effort to win re-election. This included a now-infamous election ad that ratcheted up fear and hatred of Mexicans living in the U.S. by putting drug smuggling, home invasions and murder at the feel of illegals, and then admonishing a county sheriff that officials should "Complete the danged fence."
So, it should come as no surprised that that town hall was full of terrified, angry and woefully misinformed Arizonans. There was even a bit of bemusing irony when one of the more vitriolic speakers took Mr. McCain to task for not yet completing "the danged fence" -- and then the senator tried to point out that all was well because he could point at a chart.
Illegal immigration is problem in Arizona. But there are fair and reasonable ways of dealing with it, and there are pandering to fear ways. And John "Country First" McCain -- the man who gave us Sarah Palin (R-half-term AK) -- hasn't helped the danged situation by leaping all over the landscape wherever the wind best serves him.
This is a pattern for Senator McCain. In his presidential campaign, he received deserved praise for refusing to bring Rev. Wright and race into the campaign -- yet happily allowed charges of "palling around with terrorists" (offered by his dear running mate, Ms. Palin) and shouts of "traitor" and "kill him" against Mr. Obama to go unanswered at campaign rallies. And then, when he took the microphone away from a woman at a town hall for her calling Mr. Obama an "Arab" and "not one of us" -- he got praise for being oh-so-noble. Except back then, like now, the action was required because he himself had pandered so much that it became a problem.
I do admire that he finally did (and does on occasion) stand up against people. That's at least something. But he's standing up against problems that he himself helped create. As he puts country last.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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