Obama Following Romney On Immigration . . . And Then — Get Out The Tissues . . .

I’ve already discussed Mitt Romney’s appearance a few days ago before the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, which was notably lacking in coherence, much less warmth, connection, and empathy.  Mitt shifted unceasingly, stammered uncomfortably, and smiled unconvincingly as he tried to win over a group of people who’ve heard him make unequivocal statements that could reasonably be construed as opposed to their political and personal interests, and I got the sense that if his next scheduled appearance had been to an assembly of fifth-graders to discuss Our Changing Bodies, he would’ve been relieved.

It was that bad, and Romney surely realizes that Latino voters — none of whom will benefit personally from Obama’s executive order to halt deportations of those brought here as children without papers by their parents — nonetheless will expect him to respond to simple, direct questions about whether or not he would cancel or continue the President’s order if he’s elected.  He has stated that he would “veto” the Dream Act, the goals and intentions of which are expressed by Obama’s order, and he ought to presume that mass amnesia is not likely to descend on Latino voters between now and Election Day.  He may be safe in presuming that not every Latino voter agrees with Obama’s policy, but he puts that part of his campaign that seeks support among Latinos at risk if he doesn’t respond.

Failure to answer the question with a plain, clear “yes, I would continue it” or “no, I wouldn’t” also puts that part of his campaign hoping to demonstrate simple decency, integrity, and honesty at great risk, although that’s a part of his candidacy that’s been on life support since Day One, desiccated and shrunken by each passing day.

But it wasn’t simply by comparison that Barack Obama’s passionate and purposeful speech to NALEO the day after Romney’s was one of the most emotional political speeches I’ve heard in a decade, and while I don’t think his Order will help him politically — in fact, I think it might even hurt him — Obama demonstrated that immigration, and his version of the Dream Act in particular, is personally important to him.  This son of an immigrant Kenyan, an American citizen whose life has been lived at a blessed, flourishing Ground Zero multiculturally, poured out his heart to an audience full of people who’ve been personally touched by the immigration debate, and he did so with a familiarity and brotherhood borne of obvious respect and shared struggle.  While most Latino voters identify as Democrats, there’s been a significant groundswell in the number of Latino officials in the GOP, and Obama’s audience was not necessarily geared toward his reelection.  But they were, and will continue to be, oriented toward having their political muscle recognized, and one of the two candidates seemed unable to do that.  His subsequent remark that he was “humbled” to receive the support of Latino voters was surprising — and not because Romney doesn’t “do” humility well, but because polls show he has, actually, very little support from Latinos.   Romney’s position with Latinos is, indeed, humbling, but continued acknowledgement of such a paltry whimper of support might devolve into something more humiliating than humbling.

Leave a Reply