Watching the debate last night, you'd think that Latinos (and not, as conventional wisdom would have it, Ohioans) are going to swing this thing.
The issue aimed at the Latino vote, of course, was immigration. Because that's all us brown folk think about — getting other brown folk across that border, legally or not.
Anyway, Republican nominee Mitt Romney was right to rake Obama over the coals for his slow action on “comprehensive immigration reform:”
The president promised that he'd get the kind of immigration reform long touted by a pro-immigrant President Bush passed. He didn't.
Obama did institute a program whereby people who came here illegally as children, through no fault of their own, could obtain limited work permits.
But in terms of reform, Romney charged this:
He didn't do it. He had a Democrat House, a Democrat Senate — a majority of both houses.
For his part, Obama blamed obstructionists in Congress, saying:
I sat down with Democrats and Republicans at the beginning of my term and said let's fix this system. … It's very hard for Republicans in Congress to support comprehensive immigration reform.
Later, he said, “I can deliver, Governor, a whole bunch of Democrats” to pass immigration reform — if only Romney's Republican pals would play ball.
It's kind of true that Republicans have been fairly anti-immigrant, particularly during their primaries, and it's a little disingenuous of Romney to turn around and point the finger at the president knowing full well his friends in Congress wouldn't touch immigration reform with a 10-foot churro.
Then again, a promise is a promise.
Obama, meanwhile, struck at Romney's famous quote that illegal immigrants should “self-deport.”
His main strategy during the Republican primary was to say we're going to encourage self-deportation — making life so miserable on folks that they'll leave.
Ay, dios mio.
Romney, who noted that his father was born in Mexico, tried to explain himself by saying, “We're not going to round up 12 million [undocumented] people. .. Let them make their own choice.”
Um. Yeah. We're guessing they're going to choose to stay near the Walmart and the EZ financing and the big white ladies.
Romney said, “I will not grant amnesty to those who came here illegally” (though he later made an exception for the same kinds of folks, those who came here as children, who can now benefit from Obama's work-permit program).
Romney also splashed some cold water on something that's already happening in California. Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed a law that will allow those job-permit program participants — otherwise known as undocumenteds — to obtain driver's licenses.
I would not give driver's licenses to those who came here illegally, as the president would.
Even if Romney's elected, that won't be his choice.