May 21, 2010 | Commentary on Rule of Law
Obama and Calderon were the bash brothers as they knocked Arizona's immigration law together. It was unseemly.
President Obama says Arizona's new immigration law is awful because it "has the potential to be applied in a discriminatory fashion."
Name one law that doesn't. Even jaywalking laws have been challenged with claims that they're discriminatorily applied. (It happened in Peoria!) The ACLU has long claimed that traffic laws are abused via racial profiling.
By publicly bashing an American law during a joint appearance with the President of Mexico, Barack Obama poured gasoline on an already-raging fire and missed a golden chance to be statesmanlike. His unseemly comments outdid the State Department's improper apology to the Chinese about the Arizona law.
The White House could have made the occasion a teachable moment, asking Mexican President Felipe Calderon to understand that the federal-state issue is an internal matter that we can and will resolve--not Mexico. That would have demonstrated respect for the majority of Americans who tell pollsters they support Arizona's law (and 73% who told Pew they endorse "requiring people to produce documents verifying legal status). Obama went beyond disagreement and showed contempt for that view.
Instead, he re-stirred the passions over his constant international apologies for the USA. Add to that list that he thinks the millions of Americans who support Arizona are 'misguided' (which comes across as a code word for 'Neanderthal'). Obama has now topped even his visit to France where he accused the U.S. of being "arrogant."
Yet Obama and his surrogates display that arrogance when they set up false arguments and claims about the law, while publicly admitting that they (at least the Attorney-General and Homeland Security Secretary) never bothered to read it before bashing it. The same two Cabinet members who admitted not reading the Arizona law then stood and applauded Calderon when he denounced it in his speech to Congress.
In an era when most of the public distrusts mainstream media, the Administration's credibility collapses when they base their remarks on media reports rather than the text of the law.
They should at least acknowledge that Arizona's law explicitly bans racial profiling. Sen. John McCain (R, AZ) accuses Obama of "totally falsifying the law passed in Arizona, which calls for reasonable suspicion, both whether someone should be stopped or not, and, once they're stopped, reasonable suspicion as to whether they are in the country illegally, and it specifically outlaws racial profiling."
As a former constitutional law professor, Obama could have reminded us that most laws are constitutional as written, and are upheld so long as not applied in an unconstitutional manner.
Instead, he opted for pandering rhetoric. It's no secret that Democrats hope Hispanics will become single-issue voters who will be a permanent part of the Democrat Party coalition. A La Raza/SEIU-sponsored poll shows Latinos are indeed being galvanized over the issue.
There are other repercussions. Obama has enlarged the importance of another big question: WWKD? What would Elena Kagan do if approved for the Supreme Court? Would she vote to uphold or strike down this law? Inquiring minds want to know, and responsible U.S. Senators should inquire.
Calderon's comments--echoed again in his next-day speech to Congress--did not go unnoticed. "It was inappropriate for President Calderon to lecture Americans on our own state and federal laws," said Senator John Cornyn (R, TX). Calderon also has economic motives for his remarks because billions flow southward from his countrymen working in the U.S. But his protestations prompted observations about hypocrisy, because "their (Mexico's) law still reads an awful lot like Arizona's."
It was unseemly and insulting to have our President join with the head of another nation in bashing the duly-approved law of a state of our union. Obama has reinvigorated fears that he lacks commitment to America's sovereignty and that he gives more respect to the views of those in other nations than to the views of his fellow Americans.
Ernest Istook served 14 years in Congress and is now a distinguished fellow at The Heritage Foundation.
First appeared in the Huffington Post