(Alternate Title: Will Someone With an Actual Solution PLEASE STAND UP?)
I’ve been trying to let more political things slide so it doesn’t make me crazy, but today’s roundtable on ABC’s This Week was so chock full of insanity that I had to post.
First, Al Sharpton is asked what the state of Arizona is supposed to do about their illegal immigration problem. Rev. Sharpton does not answer that question at all, putting it back on the federal government saying “the federal government is supposed to make immigration policy.” (Shame on Jake Tapper for not following up and asking him to actually answer the question about what states should do when the federal government does not do their job.)
Sharpton is no fan of the bill and is organizing a protest on Wednesday. He says it is not about protecting illegal immigrants; it is about protecting legal Hispanics who might be racially profiled. There is validity to his point if you believe that police will not follow the law. (Technically, the law doesn’t do that; but the executive order that Governor Jan Brewer signed the day she signed the law specifically prohibits racial profiling.)
[Aside: We can differ about the extent to which this would be done. Those who have a problem with this bill, mostly liberals, seem to believe that police just love racially profiling and will do it whenever they have the chance; then they say it's unfair that they get a bad rap about their stance on law and order. And it's wrong to presume that someone with brown skin is an illegal alien, but apparently it's totally justifiable to just presume cops are racist. The presumption of innocence works both ways.]
Sharpton’s evidence that the law goes too far in impinging on citizens’ rights? “The recognition of that is the state of Arizona’s legislature just refined what they said over the weekend. They conceded that we’re right and they had to refine it.” Sharpton’s argument is this: the law is bad, and we know it is bad because they had to fix it.
Never mind the fact that the bad parts of the bill WERE FIXED BY THE LEGISLATURE. Sharpton’s mad about parts of the bill that were fixed just days later, and he’s holding a protest over a bill that has been refined and improved. At this point, my brain is starting to hurt just a little bit making sense of this.
George Will tries to make an argument that, when you go to a courthouse, you have to show ID, so why is it unreasonable to ask people for ID, especially when federal immigration law requires all legal immigrants to carry their immigration papers on them at all times, and has done so for over a half century? Sharpton has a very good response to him: EVERYONE at the courthouse has to show ID, not just people that might look like illegal immigrants. I actually agree with Sharpton on this. One solution is to simply ask everyone for ID any time they come in contact with police officers, or any time they use government services. It would seem that the standard Sharpton wants is that everyone has to be asked for ID then, right?
Wrong. When asked about the Democrats’ new bill that would require everyone to show a national ID card for employment purposes, Sharpton doesn’t like that either, saying, “I would have some very serious questions with some aspects of the Democratic bill but I’m going to see what ultimately ends up being the Democratic bill and I’m sure a lot of us in the civil rights community will question parts of it.”
Let me get this straight. Sharpton doesn’t like when people are selectively required to show ID, but now apparently doesn’t like when people are all required to show ID. Not sure what Sharpton actually wants to do about immigration? Neither is George Will, who then asks him, “What enforcement of immigration laws do you support?” Sharpton never answers this question. Neither Jake Tapper nor George Will can get Al Sharpton to say what either states or the federal government can do to enforce immigration laws.
Rev. Sharpton has no solutions, but he throws a darn good rally. And did you catch the double standard he applied there?
In talking about the Republican bill, he ignores the fact that the legislature has amended the bill to improve and refine it; improvements don’t matter, it’s a bad bill and we’ll pass judgment based on the initial bill. In fact, we’ll throw a protest to show our displeasure with the initial bill, even though there have been changes.
But in talking about the Democratic bill, he doesn’t want to pass judgment on the bill until it is improved and refined. Wouldn’t want to jump to any conclusions.
If that wasn’t bad enough, I have two words for you: Bill Maher. I watch his show on HBO every week. I don’t want to be accused by people of only listening to what people who believe what I believe have to say. It’s often frustrating, but it’s definitely educational. He usually has one Republican (if that) and two Democrats, along with himself. When John Bolton mad a statement about protecting our country from terrorism, about 4 people in his audience applauded. Bolten responded, “You let in Republicans?” If you’ve ever watched the show, it’s clear that Maher is a liberal, as is his audience, and his show clearly slants left. He used to be a libertarian but now it would be a stretch to call him that, because he wants more government intervention in almost everything (except for drugs, of course; we all know Bill likes him some weed). He says outlandish things and then uses the excuse that he is a comedian to not be held accountable for them, much like Al Franken does. It was the first time I can remember ABC putting a comedian on a political roundtable and it was to their detriment.
He starts off by playing the “Republicans and conservatives are racists” angle here: “But government intrusion, you know, government power, is something that really bothers conservatives unless it’s directed toward people who aren’t white. It does seem like there’s some of that going on there.”
Tapper counters Maher’s statement with statements by Republican officials condemning the Arizona law. George Will says, “Mr. Maher just said, if I heard him right, that conservatives basically are racists and they like government intrusion only against people who aren’t white.”
Maher clearly said the second part of that. While he didn’t specifically say that conservatives are racists, a) it is undoubtedly implied in his statement, and b) Will did qualify it with the word “basically.”
Katrina van den Heuvel apparently hasn’t been listening to anything that was said, as she says, “I didn’t hear that.” It seems some Democrats want to have it both ways: they want to say that Republicans are racist, so that minorities will vote Democrat, but when confronted they want to say that they didn’t just play the race card. It’s disingenuous and shameful.
To clarify what he said, Maher says this: “Let me defend myself. I would never say, and I have never said, because it’s not true, that Republicans, all Republicans, are racist. That would be silly and wrong. But nowadays, if you are racist, you’re probably a Republican.” Sounds an awful lot like: “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists seem to be Muslims.” When people say that, they are called racist. Hopefully that same standard will be applied to Bill Maher. But I doubt it will because, after all, he’s just a comedian.
When Jake Tapper asks him at the end of the discussion, “Bill, what should be done to protect the border?” his response is, “I pass.” He and one or two others laugh. But this is not funny. You’re on a political talk show about serious issues and you pass judgment about those that make policy, even implying that they are racist, but when asked to come up with one policy suggestion, you have absolutely nothing to contribute. I’ve been looking for a reason to cancel my HBO subscription for a while. I think I’ve just found it.
This is the problem with “political dialogue,” if it can even be called that, in America these days. Both Sharpton and Maher want to condemn people who make policy decisions to confront real problems they face because these people made decisions that Sharpton and Maher think are wrong. But when asked what decisions they would make in the face of those problems, neither one of them even tries to answer the question. It’s shameful.
Matthew Dowd, another panelist on today’s program said, summarized it well: “To me, this conversation is another example of why people that tune in and people that think they’re going to get an answer from Washington, from Democrats or Republicans, on almost any issue, whether it’s protecting the environment, whether it’s stopping things on Wall Street, whether it’s immigration reform, whether it’s enforcement of any law. That is why they’re fed up.”
Until someone has an actual solution to something they claim is a problem, I’m not going to listen to what they have to say any more, and you probably shouldn’t either. As they say in economics, if you don’t like the model I’m using, it’s your duty to tell me how to fix my model or show me that another model will yield better results. You may not like how I do something, but unless you can show me what you would do instead and how it would solve the problem better, you’re not a political thinker. You’re just a critic.