The governor's radical makeover on drivers licenses continued with his joint press conference on Saturday with Homeland Security. As the NY Times reported: "In a major shift, Gov. Eliot Spitzer is backing off his plan to allow illegal immigrants to obtain the same kind of driver’s licenses as other New Yorkers, after weeks of furor over the proposal."
What the Spitzer about face demonstrates is that the original plan had serious public safety weaknesses: "The new plan also reflects the increasingly complicated security requirements that have been developed by the federal government since the Sept. 11 attacks." This obvious weakness, however, hasn't made a dent on the illegal immigrant amen chorus-led by the civil liberties crowd that has never endorsed a single homeland security measure in the six years since the country was attacked.
It's as if 9/11 never happened for these ostriches, and as Ray Rivera reported yesterday, they are fighting back against the governor's understanding change of heart. Here's the full quote that underscores the kind of cliff that the governor was headed for if he hadn't been cold watered with a dose of political common sense:
“He’s now embracing and letting his good name be used to promote something that has been widely known in the immigrant community as one of the most anti-immigrant pieces of legislation to come out of Congress,” Ms. Hong said.
She said having separate licenses would amount to a scarlet letter for illegal immigrants. “I know I’m speaking for millions of immigrants when I say I just feel so thoroughly betrayed.”The separate licenses could also serve as an invitation for law enforcement to arrest anyone carrying one on immigration charges, said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. She added that the new proposal could send illegal immigrants further into the shadows, compelling them to drive with forged or no licenses and without insurance.
“This flip-flopping is bowing to the fear-mongering of the Bush administration and turns New York into a poster child for policies based on fear rather than public safety,” she said."
These are the people who have been driving the governor's cliff-heading bus; folks who want blanket amnesty for the illegals and spit in the face of citizens and all of the immigrants who have spent the time and money to gain legal status-and they ignore the fact that Utah, for instance, has a two-tiered system that the undocumented workers now support after initial trepidation. And to hear Donna Lieberman support something in the name of "public safety" is beyond funny.
But then again, this is the same position that is supported by the editorial scions at the Times, another quarter that has no interest in any measure that protects the country's citizens. In yesterday's editorial, the paper encourages the governor to educate the unwashed about why the original proposal makes sense, and why-as per the NYCLU-it's about security: "Democrats need to gather their strength, and Mr. Spitzer needs to help them marshal the substantial arguments for this cause. If this is about security, Mr. Spitzer wins. His plan is safer than the one we have now."
Someone, obviously with more seychel than the editorialist at the Times, talked sense to the governor, yet he still continues to put his foot in his mouth by saying-as per Liz Benjamin-that his proposal has been approved by Homeland Security. It's one thing, however, to argue the plan on whatever its merits might be construed to be, it's quite another to have a political psychotic break and argue that promoting this insult was good politics.
The NY Post captures this yesterday with the following prescient headline: GOV NEEDS YEAR TO FIX ID WRECK. And Mayor Bloomberg got it just right when he called the Spitzer epiphany, "a clear step in the right direction." What's clear in all of this, however, is that the NY Times remains the most clueless opinion-molding outlet in the country, an organization whose world view is way out-of-step with the perspectives of the vast majority of New Yorkers; and the governor takes the paper's advice at his own political peril.