Waiting around in a hospital gown for routine medical screening is not usually something that puts anyone in a high mood. But, when I found myself in that situation recently, the TV happened to be on and I could not help bursting into laughter when I saw Michele Bachmann on the news giving a shoutout to Elvis to celebrate his birthday. The only problem was that she had picked the anniversary of his death.
Does this mean that Bachmann is unqualified to be president? Of course not, unless, possibly, you happen to be an Elvis fan. Even then, the thought might be more important than the gaffe, without which Bachmann would not be Bachmann. But this started me thinking about where she and the other Republican crazies stand on more important issues, such as immigration.
But before I get to that, is it fair or accurate to use the word "crazies" about all Republicans? Obviously it is not, and I am definitely not doing so. To call someone crazy merely for being a Republican, or a Democrat, is in itself crazy. But in Bachmann's case, no one can avoid the "C" word and claim to be giving an honest opinion at the same time.
Even aside from her ludicrous remarks about gays, which are so full of hate that they are beyond bigoted, anyone who sees the US Congress as full of "anti-Americans", or who says that the framers of the Constitution worked tirelessly to eradicate slavery, even though many of them were slaveowners themselves, is testing the boundaries of sanity, to say the least. As if there were any doubt, her blaming the US census bureau for Roosevelt's infamous Japanese "relocation" policy during WW2 would make the case against her having much of a hold on reality airtight.
Well, what about Rick Perry? Leaving aside the collection of lunatic right wing ministers whom he has been surrounding himself with, as Rachel Maddow (who is not just America's best TV commentator, but the only good one) revealed on her show recently, including one minister who calls the Statue of Liberty an "idol" and other who made a remark about the current Japanese emperor, and the entire country, which is so offensive and off the wall that I cannot repeat it here, Perry has just certified himself as a full blown crazy. What other word is there to decribe someone who threatens to lynch the head of the Federal Reserve and calls him a traitor?
So where do these two crazies, whom many consider the two leading Republican contenders for the presidency, stand on immigration? The best that that can be said for Bachmann is that her views on immigration are consistent with her other borderline views (no pun intended). She wants every state to adopt Arizona-style immigration laws and wants to move American troops from the Korean border to the Mexican one. That says it all about Bachmann and immigration.
Perry, on the other hand, is surprisingly (or, perhaps not so surprisingly, given the large Latino population of Texas) mixed on immigration. Ten years ago, he signed a law allowing illegal immigrants to pay in state college tuition. He has also reportedly spoken out against Arizona's immigration law and the E-verify program.
However, Perry is also in favor of using predator drones on the Mexican border and is opposed to legalization in any form, including most of the DREAM Act. Erwin de Leon quotes the mayor of San Antonio, Julian Castro, as saying that Perry has "the most anti-Latino agenda in more than a generation".
So far, I have left Mitt Romney off my list of Republican crazies. But didn't Romney just say the other day that corporations are "people"? That alone should put him at the top of the list. So where is Romney on immigration? Strictly in the enforcement - only camp as well. He also opposes legalization and sanctuary cities and gives top priority to "securing" the Mexican border. He does claim to support more legal immigration. But as governor of Massachusetts, Romney favored giving local police the power to enforce the immigration laws, a position which, in principle at least, is no different from the harsh anti-immigrant laws in states such as Arizona, Georgia and Alabama.
Given that the three leading Republicans have little or nothing to offer the pro-immigration community, we should all rush to the polls next year to vote to re-elect Obama, right? Not so fast. How many people have Bachmann, Perry and Romney actually deported? Zero. Obama's total? About a million. How many lies have the three leading Republicans tried to foist on the states about "Secure Communities"? None that I have seen reported. Obama? An ever growing list.
What about the hypocrisy index of the three top Republicans on immigration? Pretty low, so far. With them, what we see is what we are pretty likely to get. Obama's immigration hypocrisy index? At least as long as the list of non-criminal immigrants he has deported and the number of American families with one or more unauthorized immigrants that he has broken up. Next year, the pro-immigrant community will most likely have a choice between a Republican anti-immigrant crazy and the current anti-immigrant hypocrite in the White House.
Roger Algase is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been practicing business immigration law in New York City for more than 20 years.