President Obama has thrown down on immigration by elevating the Dream Act on the national political agenda. This diary is not intended to discuss the virtues of the Dream Act as others have done so well, but to examine the Romney's strategic choices.
Romney can certainly go to the Etch-a-Sketch strategy and change his mind on the Dream Act. He can just say that he's now running in a general election (for Pete's sake) and his prior statements about the Dream Act no longer apply. This is not an entirely unreasonable strategy because it has worked so well for him on so many other issues. In fact, it is difficult to think of an issue where this has not worked.
Some have suggested that candidates have a quota for how many times they can change their minds on issues during a political career and still maintain electability. Romney clearly has not reached that quota yet. His intellectual pliability certainly takes my breath away, but he never had to worry about my vote. It was never and would never be his.
He may worry a bit about the Tea Party, but most of them just hate Obama and don't really care about issues or debt or much of anything. Since Romney is running against Obama, they will have his back. (Methinks skin color has something to do with this)
Two Language Strategy
In this strategy, he would have one position on the Dream Act in Spanish and another position in English. Work with me on this. It's not quite as stupid as it sounds. Step one is you take a hard line position against the Dream Act in English to put smiles on the faces of all the Tea Party lunatics. Next, you go to the billionaires and ask for some big money (really big money) to promote an ad campaign in the Spanish language media in support of something that sounds like the Dream Act. Third, and most important, you limit your media exposure to the warm, soft bosom of Fox News.
This strategy is not without risk. There are more than a couple of people in the US who are bilingual. And this approach might appear to some to be unseemly. Or craven. Or deceptive. Or fraudulent. Or Romney-esque.
Mitt Romney's good friend and California Chair, Meg Whitman, tried this strategy in her campaign for California Governor and it did not work too well. It led to one of the most brutal interviews I have ever heard. Whitman went on the right wing radio show on KFI with Jon and Ken. They savaged her and essentially ended her campaign. Romney's campaign would never allow their candidate within a country mile of a show like Jon and Ken. I think Bob Schieffer is the absolute limit of tolerance for the campaign.
(My prediction: Schieffer: So, Governor Romney. What is your position on the Dream Act? Romney: My position has been very consistent. I believe that President Obama has been disastrous on everything and he needs to go because I am a heavy weight and can solve all of our problems by the first week in office. It will be easy. Schieffer: OK. We'll leave it there. Thank you for joining us Governor Romney.)
The third strategic choice available to Romney is to go hard line. Oppose the Dream Act. Oppose what DHS is now doing. Pledge to repeal the new process and fully enforce immigration laws on the young, the old, the anyone.
This strategic choice requires a couple of things. First, Romney must hope for a European disaster or even worse employment numbers in the US. He's had plenty of help from Congress on this already and I imagine he can rely on some help from some billionaires to help, too. Second, he really has to support the voter suppression efforts in key battleground states. If Romney takes this road, he will not have much Latino support and voter suppression is his best option.
We tend to think that Romney is in a box on this, but he has resources and options. He has plenty of money. He has the friendly outlet of Fox News. He has a remarkable intellectual pliability. He has a team that can suppress minority voters with zeal. He can get out of this, but I cannot say that it will be pretty. And I cannot say that in the end we will be a more unified country.