Politics has never been a clean sport, so I can't say, like Louis in the movie Casablanca, that I'm "Shocked! Shocked" to see the nasty turn it has taken this season.
In Florida, Rep. Alan Grayson (D), is running television ads against his Republican opponent, Dan Webster, accusing him of being a member of the Taliban. Webster, a longtime state senator and former speaker of the state House of Representatives, has at least found Grayson's stupid smears have a silver lining: the ads are so outrageous, Webster's campaign contributions have soared, apparently because voters are so disgusted by them they believe Alan Grayson should be given this opportunity to find himself another line of work.
In California, the new third rail of American politics--illegal immigration--has become the October surprise in the race for governor between Jerry Brown, the democratic candidate and one-time governor, and Meg Whitman, the republican candidate and former CEO of eBay. Brown, who at 72, has spent his life running for office, has the support of the state's left-leaning unions, some of whom seem to have taken a part in this smear on Whitman.
The story is that Whitman, who once employed a housekeeper, who showed her a Social Security card, a driver's license, and other paperwork, and for whom the Whitmans paid the proper taxes and produced the appropriate W-2s, turns out to have been lied to by the boarder hopper and become the hirer of an illegal alien. Oh wow. There's a shock.
But the housekeeper, with the help of who knows whom from the Brown camp, has hired attorney Gloria Allred, who has produced the housekeeper (crying, of course) at several news conferences, and who now says she felt exploited by the Whitmans, and humiliated when she was finally fired for being illegal.
Okay. Now let me get this straight. As Americans, if we ask anyone with an accent to show us their paperwork that proves they have a right to live and work here, we are a bunch of racist xenophobes. And if we hire people, and don't press them and double and triple-check the paperwork they produce for us to fill out those endless IRS forms we toil over each year, then we are a bunch of exploiters of foreign laborers whom we employ in our sweat shops.
Sounds like illegal immigration is a big problem! Maybe we ought to address it! But because of the above reasons nobody except the governor of Arizona seems to have the guts.
During the Reagan administration, Congress passed an "immigration reform bill" that gave illegals already in the U.S. a means to legal residency, and added strict penalties to stem the tide of illegals across our porous borders.
The legislature meant well. And at least the president at that time was willing to address it. But boy did that turn out to be a be a flop.
Now, no matter what you say about illegal immigration you stand accused of being "against immigration of people of other ethnic backgrounds." Give me a break!
I hope, here in California, Meg Whitman will use this stupid smear, as an opportunity to talk to the voters about how challenging this issue is for all of us. And show us all how her very own case is a perfect example of why we need to enforce the regulations we presently have in place with regard to immigration. Whitman, as a new technology executive and political novice, may not yet have learned how to turn the smear to her advantage, as Reagan, a real pro at this stuff, himself learned in California.
Remember how he used to say to Sam Donaldson's hectoring questions: "Sam, I'm glad you've asked me that .... " and then smile his nice big smile and smash the tennis ball right back over the net?
Because all this really shows is how totally desperate Jerry Brown is, at 72, to get himself and his friends back in the governor's seat of the most powerful state in the nation. Brown, who was once a bright young man, mentioned in dispatches as a potential presidential candidate, can't believe all these other guys he knew have managed to get to be president of the United States and he--Jerry Brown!!!--has not. And not having Whitman's considerable campaign chest, he's pulled out this ancient political trick-or-treat surprise in a ploy to get back his mojo.
And the issues? Gosh, we hardly ever talk about those darn things.