Last Friday, there was a TNR interview with Charles Barkley
that I loved (except for the embarrassing faux-hipness of the author). And it reminds me of the crap that John Edwards is getting because he's a self-made man who hopes to assist the working class. (civic-minded millionaires are a bad
thing?) Then there's that whole "male Democrats are definitely womany, and quite possibly gay" thing. Odds are that pudgy, middle-aged reactionary white men aren't going to say the same thing about Charles Barkley. For any number of reasons.
CHARLES BARKLEY: Illegal immigration to me is the easiest thing in the world to fix.
TNR: How so?
All they have to do is penalize the people they work for. You should get penalized. It's all poor people who argue over illegal immigration. They want poor people to--I call it divide and conquer. That's all they do is divide and conquer.
The rich people are trying to divide the poor people?
Yes, they got all the money, they got all the power. Whether it's that, or they divide you racially on certain things. They divide you racially, economically, and on things like that. It just splits the vote, and the rich people still end up on top at the end of the day. They control everything.
So is that what interests you primarily--economic issues?
America is divided by economics strictly. You know, people always talk about race, and we have racial problems in this country. Of course we do. But the real issue is the rich against the poor. We've got to get poor white people and poor black people and Mexicans to realize they are all in the same boat. If you in one of those three groups and you are poor, you are going to be in a bad neighborhood, you are going to go to a bad school, and you are going to have strikes against you. You can't commit crimes in good neighborhoods. They will get your ass. Their kids go to private school, or they go to school in a good economic area. But the poor people, they are all in the same boat but they divide you based on race or stuff like that. A lot of these politicians say things like "We've got to stop all these illegal immigrants." I am like, "That is so easy to stop." They are not working for other immigrants.
Terse. Reasonable. Absolutely correct. And the ol' divide-and-conquer strategy is applicable to so many areas-- get poor, white southerners with race panic, affluent suburban moms with terror panic, fundamentalists with gay panic, and militiamen with gun control panic, and no one will pay any attention while you loot the nation. Sweet!
But that sort of straight talk (a term that John McCain seems determined to permanently "ironicize"-- Hey! He's the Ironicizer! Somebody get Maureen Dowd on the line!) is pretty damn rare these days. Case in point:
"The fact that he's not in the room helping to build a bipartisan consensus . . . it's going to be far more difficult to get a bipartisan bill," said Frank Sharry, a pro-immigrant lobbyist. "This guy is my hero on this issue. I am heartbroken that he's not in the room. Heartbroken."
Senators from both parties and senior White House officials are hurrying to negotiate a deal that would give illegal immigrants a path to legal status after clearing criminal checks and paying fines. The plan would beef up border security and put new emphasis on enforcing workplace rules. Democratic leaders have given them until tomorrow to produce legislation before forcing another vote on the McCain-Kennedy bill that failed last year.
In the meantime, the leading Republican candidates for president are distancing themselves from the plan.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who just a year ago characterized the bipartisan efforts as "reasonable proposals," now derides the plans being negotiated in Congress as "amnesty" for illegal immigration.
Former New York mayor Rudolph K. Giuliani, whose record is filled with pro-immigrant speeches and actions, has been largely silent on the debate. And Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, another GOP contender, was a key McCain ally on immigration a year ago but recently renounced his support for the approach.
Which brings me to another interview-- Bill Moyers talking to Jon Stewart. In part about John McCain's recent Daily Show appearance. I highly recommend watching the whole thing if you haven't already.
BILL MOYERS: But something happened [to McCain]. You saw it happen to him. What you saw was evasive action. It wasn't shriveling, it was merely--
BILL MOYERS: But he dropped his head, and you could you could--
JON STEWART: Actually, he began to-- he stopped connecting and just looked at my chest and decided, "I'm just gonna continue to talk about honor and duty and [how] the families should be proud," all the things that are cudgels emotionally to keep us from the conversation. But, things that weren't relevant to what we were talking about.
Sure, maybe it's wishful thinking, but I really thought I could see in McCain's face his momentary bafflement at a reasonable question, followed by his conscious decision to go with the bullshit.
JON STEWART: That's right. There is a there is an enormous contradiction, and it is readily apparent, if you just walk through simple sort of logic, and simple rational points. But the thing that they don't realize is that everyone wants them to come from beyond that contradiction so that we can all fix it. Nobody is saying, "We don't have a problem." Nobody is saying that, "9/11 didn't happen." What they're saying is, "We're not a fragile country, trust us to have this conversation, so that we can do this in the right way, in a more effective way."
Granted, that's the Limbaugh/Coulter school of political discourse, as popularized by the post-... Nixon? Reagan? Gingrich? GOP. But if that's the actual level of political discourse in the United States, and not just one more slimy, poisonous offspring of the 'Republican Revolution,' we're in profound trouble as a nation.