Both the NYT and the WaPo stories on what was behind Gov. Spitzer’s apparent shift on the driver’s license issue last weekend — instead of letting illegals get a regular license, as he’d originally proposed in September, now he wants to give them a special, illegal-alien license — suggest that Michael Chertoff and the Department of Homeland Security were somehow winners and extracted valuable concessions. That’s not right — it’s more like Chertoff and the administration came to Spitzer’s rescue, salvaging his illegal-alien license plan from guaranteed defeat by giving him a face-saving way of claiming that he’s actually improving the security of New York’s licenses. The reality is that in exchange for DHS’s imprimatur for giving licenses to illegals, Spitzer has merely committed to comply with federal law, specifically the Real ID Act.
But the administration’s bailout of Spitzer may not work in any case — Republicans in the state Senate are going ahead with plans to file suit, as Judicial Watch already has, and they have public opinion behind them. Too bad New Yorkers can’t recall their governors, like in California.