Li­cense to dis­sem­ble

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Fully 77 per­cent of re­spon­dents to last week’s Fox 5/Wash­ing­ton Times/Ras­mussen poll ob­ject to the idea of is­su­ing driver’s li­censes to il­le­gal aliens. That sub­ject, which tripped up Sen. Hil­lary Clin­ton, New York Demo­crat, in the Oct. 30 Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial de­bate in Philadel­phia, and which New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer seems in­tent to make a re­al­ity in the Em­pire State, hope­fully now will be taken se­ri­ously by all the pres­i­den­tial as­pi­rants. Along with col­lege schol­ar­ships for il­le­gals and other tax-funded pub­lic ben­e­fits, vot­ers would seem to agree with Sen. Chris Dodd, Con­necti­cut Demo­crat, who told lis­ten­ers at a de­bate two weeks ago that a “driver’s li­cense goes too far.”

For the open-borders right, il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion and re­lated is­sues like driver’s li­censes are the “fool’s gold” of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics, a sub­ject that riles the base but yields lit­tle at the polls. There have been plenty of in­stances where this no­tion proved sim­ply to be un­true: most fa­mously Cal­i­for­nia Gov. Gray Davis’ 2003 re­call; sev­eral races in last year’s midterms; and, most im­por­tant lately, in Mas­sachusetts’ spe­cial House elec­tion to suc­ceed out­go­ing Demo­cratic Rep. Marty Mee­han. Demo­crat Niki Tsongas’ un­ex­pect­edly slim vic­tory there over Repub­li­can Jim Ogonowski is at­trib­ut­able in part to Mr. Ogonowski’s ag­gres­sive cam­paign­ing on im­mi­gra­tion and Mrs. Tsongas’ feck­less­ness.

In­deed, for the open-borders crowd to be right, 77 per­cent of last week’s re­spon­dents would con­sti­tute an aw­ful lot of pyrite. The num­bers break down to 88 per­cent of Repub­li­cans, 75 per­cent of in­de­pen­dents and even 68 per­cent of Democrats in op­po­si­tion. Con­sider that last part: More than twothirds of Democrats op­pose driver’s li­censes for il­le­gal aliens, even though at the re­cent de­bate, only Mr. Dodd raised his hand when NBC’s Tim Russert asked which Demo­cratic hope­fuls op­pose li­censes for il­le­gals. Ex­pect to hear more from Republi- cans on this sub­ject.

Hear­ing Mrs. Clin­ton grap­ple with it is to watch a vet­eran tri­an­gu­la­tor at work on a ques­tion which she, too, be­lieves mat­ters. We doubt that the trip-up was ev­i­dence of Mrs. Clin­ton’s un­pre­pared­ness. It would be highly un-Clin­to­nian — it has all the mark- ings of care­ful eva­sion. Asked by Mr. Russert whether she sup­ports Mr. Spitzer’s push to give il­le­gal aliens driver’s li­censes — she had pre­vi­ously spo­ken fa­vor­ably of the idea to the Nashua Tele­graph’s edi­to­rial board, he noted — Mrs. Clin­ton said that Mr. Spitzer was “try­ing to fill the vac­uum” left by fed­eral in­ac­tion. She seemed to voice sup­port when ar­gu­ing that il­le­gals will be on the roads in any event: bet­ter to rec­og­nize and li­cense them. She then changed course: “I just want to add, I did not say that it should be done, but I cer­tainly rec­og­nize why Gov. Spitzer is try­ing to do it.” Later, af­ter the de­bate, she changed course again, voic­ing sup­port: “Sen­a­tor Clin­ton sup­ports gov­er­nors like Gov­er­nor Spitzer who be­lieve they need such a mea­sure to deal with the cri­sis caused by this ad­min­is­tra­tion’s fail­ure to pass com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion re­form,” her cam­paign an­nounced.

Forty-three states main­tain a “no li­censes” pol­icy for il­le­gals, at least of­fi­cially. The pub­lic sup­ports that state of af­fairs by a huge mar­gin. It is trib­ute to the no­tion that “il­le­gal” in fact means il­le­gal.

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