There is no doubt that GOP
presidential nominee John McCain`s greatest weakness
among conservative voters was his
amnesty for illegal aliens. Despite his claims that
his campaign imploded because of his support for the
Apart from Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo, and Sam Brownback, every single Republican candidate supported the surge. But apart from John McCain, every single Republican candidate opposed his amnesty. But, due to the staggeringly short memory of Republican voters, McCain was able to reinvent himself as a semi-restrictionist who would "Secure the Border First," and somehow managed to win the nomination.
Conventional wisdom was that if McCain chose a VP to appeal to the conservative base, it would be someone who had a record of (or at least perceived as) being tough on illegal immigration. Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty were the two frontrunners. McCain`s surprise choice of Gov. Sarah Palin has more than energized the conservative base. But should her record make Americans less concerned with McCain`s position on amnesty?
The conservative response to Palin makes me think of the late country singer Keith Whitley`s song, "You say it best, when you say nothing at all." Palin has barely said a word or done a thing on immigration. But many immigration patriots assume she`s a restrictionist. After all, why would a moose hunting hockey mom and bane of the liberal elite support amnesty?
explain away Palin`s inaction and silence by arguing
that immigration isn`t an issue in
The Mexican Government is opening a
However, immigration is also enough of
an issue that Palin felt compelled to pander to minority
immigrants and promise them government goodies. When
running for governor in 2006, she
replied to the
"The state has seen big growth of minority and immigrant populations, specifically Latinos, Southeast Asians, Asians and Pacific Islanders. What sort of outreach has your campaign done in these communities, and what have you learned about what these communities` specific needs?"
"I have reached
out to all these communities and asked them to identify
their needs. Their response has been for more vocational
training, senior assistance, ending gang violence, and
more state outreach and communication with their
communities. One of the key components of my internal
campaign is a diversity task force. I turn to them
Nonetheless, it seems like she has made it harder for illegals to get driver`s licenses, because they have sued the state over the issue.
Shortly before the deadline for the implementation of the REAL ID Act, the Alaska Legislature passed a resolution banning the use of state funds to enforce it. Palin is on record opposing this resolution, and refused to sign the bill. But she let it pass without a veto. Supposedly this was done because the legislature would have overridden her veto and she did not want to waste political capital on the issue. This seems awfully analogous to Obama`s voting "present" in the state legislature, which Rudy Giuliani attacked during his convention speech.
It is a safe bet to guess that Palin is against licenses for illegals, but again, it does not seem high on her priority list.
There are a few things outside Palin`s record that
suggest she might be good on immigration. Talk show and
long time Palin supporter Laura Ingraham says she has
talked to Palin about immigration, and has
assured her listeners that
"she`s not for comprehensive reform, I can tell you
that right now. She`s sick to death of this immigration
nonsense in the
This sounds promising, but without any elaboration or any public statements to back it up, it`s not conclusive.
Palin may have been a
Pat Buchanan supporter during his 1996 campaign for
president, although this is disputed. But if in fact
Palin supported Buchanan, the fact that she won`t admit
it says something about how far she`s willing to push
the envelope. Pat won
Moreover, even if Palin did support Pat, it doesn`t
necessarily mean she supports his immigration policy
anymore than she supports his foreign policy—where she
now clearly diverges from Buchanan. And, unlike in many
other states, the
pro-life movement was solidly behind Buchanan in
Palin`s inaction does not mean that she supports amnesty or any other bad policy. Besides a little pandering, she hasn`t done anything objectionable and a little good on the issue.
Now that Palin is a national figure, and the biggest hero for conservatives, she could take it upon herself to make a strong and vocal stand against amnesty, with no charges of flip-flopping. Unfortunately, it`s impossible to imagine her doing this while campaigning with John McCain.
immigration reform patriots, Palin remains
a pig in a poke—despite the lipstick .
Marcus Epstein [send him mail] is the founder of the Robert A Taft Club and the executive director of the The American Cause and Team America PAC. A selection of his articles can be seen here. The views he expresses are his own.