Is Arlen Specter finally a patriot?
By Tom DeWeese
It was the front page, banner headline of The Washington Times: "Specter puts border first, Open to deal on illegals." It appeared Senator Arlen Specter had finally come around to seeing it our way.
The article's first sentence read, "Sen. Arlen Specter said he rates border security as the No.1 priority for an immigration bill and said he is open to a compromise that sets goals for border and interior enforcement before a guest-worker program and path to citizenship for illegal aliens kicks in."
Such a statement was a far cry from the outrageous bill Specter helped broker through the Senate just a few weeks before. That bill demanded not only guest-worker provisions, but gave illegals in-state tuition for college; assured illegals will be paid a prevailing wage; assured illegals can't be fired for being here illegally; assured illegals are eligible for Social Security; and assured tax dollars will go to radical immigrant-rights groups so they can help illegals adjust their status.
Senator Specter assured us that this bill was the correct way for America to deal with illegal aliens. He rejected criticism of the bill. He ignored a letter from 71 members of the House warning the Senate not to pass a bill containing amnesty for illegals. He ignored phone and letter writing campaigns from Americans. Senator Specter knew best.
So why the change? Well, it could have been a second article buried back on page nine of the same newspaper, which reported on the findings of Washington pollster Frank Luntz. He had written a private letter to Congress that Americans are not only ready for an overhaul of illegal alien policy, "they are demanding it."
Luntz went on to say, "Any Republican who votes for legislation on illegal immigration that walks, talks, looks or smells like amnesty will reap the wrath of a Republican electorate who see more and more reasons to stay home in November."
In other words, Ol' Arlen, whose not up for reelection this year, darn it, could lose his chairmanship of the powerful Judiciary Committee. And ol' Arlen loves power. So he started looking for a way out of the mess he had helped make with the Senate's immigration bill.
Actually, it wasn't a hard thing for a man of his slippery tongue to do. He just reversed the priorities as written in the bill. All he had to do was jump on the bandwagon for border security and put out a press release saying so. The result: headlines saying Arlen Specter now supported border security.
The danger was in the small print, where he said, he would " insist that the final bill include a guest-worker program and a path to citizenship for many illegals..." The House bill calls for no amnesty plan and House members have refused to consider it. This is just a little sleight of hand by Arlen to slip it in.
So, in reality, Arlen Specter hasn't changed anything. He just moved the cheese around in the trap hoping to catch the House napping. Now, after his magnanimous offer to join the patriots, he'll blame the radical fringe conservatives for being unwilling to compromise as the reason we won't have a worthwhile change in immigration policy in this congress. Of course, it won't be Arlen's fault.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!