Brian Williams/Tim Russert/MSNBC puffball Democratic debate (1/15/08 edition)

Yet another Democratic debate was held yesterday on MSNBC, featuring Brian Williams and Tim Russert as moderators (transcript link). It was as ripped-from-the-Soviet-archives as we've come to expect from such debates, only this featured even more questions solely about process and horserace and even fewer about issues. It also featured three extremely lightweight questions about immigration, with the first not being necessary at all. Brian Williams asked:

Senator Edwards, in touching on immigration here, let's go to something that a lot of people have found to be a disconnect between the Democratic Party and majorities of voters in a lot of states. What would be the problem with English as an official language, as a bedrock requirement of citizenship?

There's a huge difference between "an official language" and "the official language", and I suspect that Williams and Edwards know that. And, knowing English is in most cases already a citizenship requirement. And, the major "disconnect" is because all the Democratic candidates support amnesty

Edwards simply responded with his stock speech about "immigration reform"; Williams briefly interrupted him before Edwards continued and made the extremely brave comment that "I think that [learning English] should be a requirement for becoming an American citizen." Such fortitude! Neither moderator pointed out that he'd come out for a policy that, except for certain minor exceptions, is already the law.

Then, Tim Russert tries baiting:

Senator Clinton, one of your pollsters was quoted in The New Yorker magazine as saying this: "The Hispanic voter has not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates." Does that represent the view of your campaign?

Parsing her reply is left as an exercise, but it started with "No, he was making a historical statement" and ended with everyone working together towards a progressive future or something.

Then, Barack Obama lends some credibility to the John McCain campaign:

I think that John and myself and Hillary may agree on the broad outlines of where we need to go [i.e., amnesty], but two years ago I stood with Ted Kennedy and John McCain and took on this tough issue, and have consistently been involved in making sure that we've got the kind of comprehensive plan that makes us a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.


That's the kind of leadership that I've shown. And when Latino voters read or hear about that leadership, then they know that they're going to have an advocate even if it's politically tough.

Except, he wasn't really advocating for those who were at the time Latino voters; he was advocating for foreign citizens who are here illegally. There are certainly large numbers of mixed-status families containing both voters and illegal aliens, but supporting illegal family reunification isn't good public policy. And, there are other Hispanics who support illegal activity due to racial solidarity, but granting their wishes is not good public policy either.

If Russert and Williams weren't corrupt hacks they would have made those or similar points, and they would have asked better questions to begin with.

Please go to public appearances by the candidates, ask them the questions that MSM hacks won't ask, and then upload the responses.

Links to previous coverage are in the post about the Charlie Gibson/ABC/ WMUR/Facebook/USSR Democratic/Republican debates.


'Except, he wasn't really advocating for those who were at the time Latino voters; he was advocating for foreign citizens who are here illegally.' Yep, nice distinction. At its core, people who are not even part of our representative democracy receive the benefit. It's undemocratic (and arguably worse to a lot of people). They just don't get it--when Teddy Kennedy was extolling the virtues of CIR, it was all about what the legislation will do for NON-Americans. He didn't even bother with trying to explain the dubious benefits for YOU. I'm glad he's so tone deaf because people really picked up on his priorities behind CIR. Hint: it wasn't your interests. Another humongous breakdown in popular sovereignty is the fact that only a tiny % of citizens favor higher immigration levels but that is what we end up with, year after year. Which is why I favor a hard total cap for all combined categories with a soft cap for refugee/asylum (and these would have to be exceptional cases so as not to just become an end run around the capped categories).

Refugee/asylum is the only flexible category and would still come out of the total cap, i.e., if the government wants to use up all the slots on refugees/asylum seekers, NO ONE else gets in that year or future years until all the slots are 'paid back'. Whatever the number less than that reduces the other categories proportionally. No open-ended back doors like 'family reunification'--if you want to emphasize that, it's at the expense of some other category and still comes out of the cap. Greater economic opportunity does not fit the UDHR definition of 'refugee' and we have no treaty obligations to help foreign nationals become richer in our country. Finally, make illegal immigration part of the cap and zero sum game. The current incentive is not to deter illegal immigration so as to get around the supposed legal limits. Let's get rid of that corrupt practice. Further, if it is determined that approximately x of the illegal population is from a particular country, that number could be deducted from their country quota. However, that won't provide disincentive if the current illegal level of a country already exceeds their country quota. Still, it keeps the total number fixed and creates incentive for other immigration interests to oppose the current anarchy. E.g., Silicon Valley would have an incentive to lobby against immigration anarchy because illegal immigrants, on the whole, have low education levels and are of no use to them but would eat up slots in the total allowed amount. As a conservationist, I am for not growing our population at all and population growth obviously has to stop at some point. The current immigration policy is like putting a morbidly obese person on a force fed Krispy Kreme-only diet. We should just say no and dramatically reduce immigration (maybe save a few for something like the "EB-1 Individuals with Extraordinary Ability" category), but in the meantime, let's pass the equivalent of a balanced budget amendment which eliminates what is analogous to deficit spending (illegal immigration and open-ended categories).