Seriously: is Bill Richardson trying to wreck John McCain?
Ask yourself: what would be the one thing most likely to undermine McCain with Arizona Republican Senate primary voters? Surely it would be the possibility that if re-elected, born-again immigration hawk McCain would revert to the squishiness that led him to partner with Ted Kennedy on a "path to citizenship" for illegals. Yet on this evening's Ed Show, that's exactly what the New Mexico governor—twice—imagined McCain might do.
Schultz set the stage, describing McCain's recent adoption of a hard line on immigration as "the biggest flip-flop of the year."
Then came Richardson, imagining a McCain re-reversal . . .
NBC Meet the Press host David Gregory peppered conservative Rep. J.D. Hayworth with tougher questions than liberal Rep. Luis Gutierrez on immigration Sunday. In the roughest one, Gregory strangely alluded to Franklin Roosevelt's internment of Japanese-Americans as somehow a metaphor as to where current immigration policy could be headed:
Congressman Hayworth, are you not concerned that just as this country has done, unfortunately, in the name of a national crisis in the past, during World War II, that there will not be excesses? That there will not be a denial of simple civil rights? The law can say everything it wants. You know that what happens in practice is what actually matters here, and this is a pretty hotly contested issue. And, and people are getting hot under the collar all over the state of Arizona and the country.
Hayworth responded without taking offense at the analogy:
Liberal political pundits frequently remind Americans that words matter, which makes broadcast network reporters' coverage of Arizona's new crack down on illegal immigrants so appalling.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a law on April 23 that would make it a misdemeanor for immigrants to not carry documentation proving they are in the country legally. The bill gave state law enforcement the power to determine the immigration status of any person during "any lawful contact." Amid allegations that this law would lead to "racial profiling," Brewer later amended it to allow law enforcement to only check the immigration status of those involved in a "lawful stop, detention or arrest."
Reporters on ABC, NBC and CBS misled the American people about the law by calling it "anti-immigration" twice as often as correctly identifying the law as "anti-illegal immigration" and reporting, as ABC's Bill Weir did on the April 24 "Good Morning America, "Police [in Arizona] now have the power to stop anyone and make them prove they are legal."
Filling in for host Bob Schieffer on Sunday's Face the Nation on CBS, Early Show co-host Harry Smith grilled former Republican Congressman J.D. Hayworth on Arizona's new immigration law: "Some people would contend that this law in Arizona is racist in nature. Some have equated it even with Jews having to carry identification during Nazi Germany. How do you respond to that?" [Audio available here]
Hayworth shot down the absurd comparison: "That is overblown rhetoric. And it's a tool that's been used before....what's going on is a deliberate distortion to move this from a question of enforcement to one of ethnicity. It's not the case. I read you the language of the bill-" Smith interrupted: "But hang on second...J.D. let me ask you this. If you were Hispanic and you were walking down the street today in Arizona, would you have some concern if a squad car drove by?"
Only minutes earlier, Hayworth had read from the Arizona law, citing a key provision that directly contradicted Smith's assertions: "It says the law, quote, 'shall be implemented in a matter consistent with federal laws regulating immigration, protecting the civil rights of all persons, and respecting the privileges and immunities of United States citizens.'"
Hayworth attempted to reiterate that point: "The law is very finely crafted, protecting-" Smith again interrupted: "It was amended Friday." Hayworth replied: "because good people of good will want to go the extra mile to ensure there is not a hint of racism here."
That damned closed primary system and its penchant for drawing conservatives to the polls!
Newsweek's Jonathan Alter fixed blame for John McCain's newfound conservative streak and abandonment of the "maverick" status that drove the media gaga back in 2000 -- when he was a challenger on George Bush's left on taxes and campaign finance reform -- on the strong Senate primary challenge the senator is receiving from his right in former Rep. J.D. Hayworth.
In an April 23 The Gaggle blog post, Alter scolded McCain for being "willing to deport all of his principles" but found a way to lay the blame on the electoral system in Arizona:
New York Times reporter Jennifer Steinhauer, previously heard insulting California voters for failing to vote for tax hikes, ventured over the border on Tuesday's front page to cover a Republican primary scuffle in Arizona involving Sen. John McCain being challenged from the right by former congressman J.D. Hayworth: “McCain, Facing G.O.P. Foe in Primary, Tilts to the Right.” The online headline: “From Right of Radio Dial, a Challenge to McCain.”
Hayworth was part of the Republican class of 1994, who served six terms in the House until losing in 2006. Steinhauer described Hayworth's defeat in loaded terms: “His loss to Harry E. Mitchell, a Democrat, in his 2006 re-election bid was humiliating, and underscored voter distaste for some of his more boisterous ways.”
From the start, Steinhauer hit the liberal cliches about conservative radio hosts.
J. D. Hayworth is a large man, and to compensate for his indulgences, he hits the elliptical trainer every morning at 4, zipping along to an incongruous soundtrack of Elvis Costello, Frank Sinatra and old advertising jingles.
Until recently, he would then repair to a local radio station, where he would spend the better part of the day denouncing, in no particular order, illegal immigrants, all things Barack Obama, those who are insufficiently patriotic and, his favorite mark, one John McCain, the senior senator from Arizona.
Steinhauer feels for McCain, who in her telling is being pushed “starkly” to the right by “far right” meanies like Hayworth, in a piece notable for its sudden sympathy toward John McCain, whose coverage in the Times seems to be determined based on whether a loss by him would help or hurt the conservative movement. As Times Watch has demonstrated, McCain was clearly the Times's favorite Republican in Campaign 2008 – until he became the clear frontrunner and the only likely candidate standing between a historic Democratic presidency involving either the first female or first black president.