The PJ Tatler

The Debate: Gingrich and Immigration—Disagreeing with My Buddies Bryan and Hugh

The Tatler’s Bryan Preston wrote of tonight’s debate, regarding Newt Gingrich:

He swung for and reached the fences more often than not, but his idea for a guest worker program sounds bureaucratic and too close to being an amnesty by another name to reward illegal aliens who have managed to stay the longest. Hugh Hewitt tweeted, wanting to know what Gingrich’s cutoff would be for allowing illegal aliens to stay — 10 years, 0r 15, or 25?

I’m sorry but I think my good friends Bryan and Hugh are posturing here. Let’s play pretend. President Bryan Preston or President Hugh Hewitt are in office and, following their campaign pledges, the borders are secure and whatever new legislation enacted. Things finally look ship shape (to pick a tired analogy). Are President Bryan or President Hugh going to send back to East Guanajuato a seventy-year old grandfather who has been here for twenty-five years and separate him from his family, grandkids, etc? Not a chance. I know both men. They are compassionate and religious (far more religious than I am). No, they would probably follow and applaud precisely the plan advocated by Newt Gingrich — give these people the right to stay, but not the full rights of citizenship (voting, etc.). It’s Solomonic and human (maybe that’s the same thing).

So let’s stop posturing. Also, get real — this kind of talk is one of the few things that could lose the election for the Republicans next November. It makes them seem hard-nosed and self-righteous, things I have never known Hugh or Bryan to be.

Update (Bryan): Speaking for myself, it’s not posturing. It’s a legitimate question to wonder what the cut-off is and what the details of his plan are. I’ve heard Gingrich’s “draft board” idea several times now and it continues to not make much sense. The draft boards during the war weren’t about who got to stay here forever after decades of skirting the law and possibly engaging in identity theft in the process, they were about who went over there to fight our wars. Huge difference. And they were fixed to time and task — winning the war. Gingrich’s boards would be never-ending without border security first, and his use of the word “comprehensive” suggests that security might not happen first. Those of us who fought the last “comprehensive immigration reform” battle hard hear that word connected to immigration, and cringe. Adding that in order to be “humane” one must acquiesce to the Grandpa plan, when he will be an outlier and we don’t have the details, is unpleasant. For all his brilliant performances in the debates, off the grand stage Gingrich recently gave us the Scozzafava fiasco, the couch trip with Pelosi, “right wing social engineering,” etc etc. He hasn’t yet earned blanket trust.

This debate won’t do “heartless” level damage to Gingrich’s campaign, but it probably will cause him a few bad days.