The Corner

McCain’s Speech

He went after the Democrats–which was wise, in my view. Specifically, he went after them on FISA, as Andy McCarthy recommended: “It is shameful and dangerous that Senate Democrats are blocking an extension of surveillance powers that enable our intelligence and law enforcement to defend our country against radical Islamic extremists.”

He seemed to shift a little bit on immigration. Previously he has talked about having border-state governors certify that the border is secure before going ahead with an amnesty and a guest-worker program. I hadn’t heard him say this before: “[O]nly after we achieved widespread consensus that our borders are secure, would we address other aspects of the problem in a way that defends the rule of law and does not encourage another wave of illegal immigration.” Two possible shifts here. First, he is talking about a “widespread consensus”–a few governors wouldn’t be enough. Second, he seems to be talking about separate guest-worker/amnesty legislation that would move after we have started to enforce the law. That is a small concession on his part, in one way: It doesn’t violate his own principles. But it is potentially a big deal, because it means that enforcement won’t be held hostage to passage of amnesty and guest worker legislation.

I’d prefer it if McCain took one more small step. It isn’t enough that the border be secure; the illegal population has to start shrinking. (A lot of illegal immigrants came here legally and overstayed their visas, so securing the borders doesn’t solve the problem.)

All in all, a good speech, for reasons a lot of other bloggers are already mentioning–but I wanted to highlight an aspect of the speech that might otherwise escape notice.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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