On his Monday show this week, Ed Schultz announced his top priority for immigration reform: massing troops on the U.S.-Mexico border.
And he followed that up with a fluff interview of U.S. Senate candidate from Arizona and proud teabagger, J.D. Hayworth. Talk about strange bedfellows.
It's rare that I find myself disagreeing with Ed Schultz, but I've really got to question his assertion that a "military surge" is the appropriate (or realistic) next step in immigration reform. And c'mon, letting his new buddy, J.D., skate through an interview without a single tough question?
More importantly, this should serve as a timely reminder of the split in organized labor that came up the last time immigration reform was on the table. Ed is a stalwart labor supporter (good on him), but his tone today should be taken a warning sign for Democrats as they move forward with legislation.
When I saw the teaser at the beginning of the Ed Show, I was ready for some fireworks:
AZ IMMIGRATION: I'LL TAKE ON J.D. HAYWORTH
But Ed's intro segment before the interview was the first tip-off that he and Hayworth might not be so far apart on immigration.
President Obama needs to address this in a big way. And I see it this way. Let's see, we surged in Iraq. We're surging in Afghanistan. Isn't time to have, maybe, an American surge on America soil, Mr. President? If we've got 30,000 more troops for Afghanistan, we should put at least half that many on the United States-Mexican border. Let the Guard do what they do: guard the nation. Our best and brightest could seal the border, in what, maybe in a matter of weeks.
This is a war that's going on down there, folks. It's a war against hard working Americans who are losing their jobs to undocumented workers. Once we seal the border, we need to find a way to bring these folks out of the shadows and crack down on the real criminals. And that's the folks who are writing the checks because they're going for cheap labor. There's nothing American about stabbing labor right in the back for some cheap, illegal workers. We need to treat this as a real threat, which it is. It's time to put America first. And I say surge on the Arizona-Mexican border. And if the Mexicans don't like it, what are we supposed to do? Just be overrun by this?
Not exactly the tone on immigration reform that I'd expect from a progressive like Ed Schultz.
Then J.D. Hayworth showed up for his first Ed Show interview:
Ed, first of all thank you for the invitation. And you and I begin with a point of agreement.
Hayworth agreed that we've got to get troops to the border ASAP. Then he moved on to Arizona's noxious new immigration law:
Quite frankly, Arizona acted because Washington failed to act. And, yes, the people of Arizona are completely in bounds doing this...
Here's what bothers me about [the Arizona immigration law], Mr. Hayworth, is that a domino effect takes place. Now in Arizona you can get a gun without a background check.
That's what bothers you about Arizona's "papers please" law, Ed? Really? That it will lead to other crappy laws? Ed's made it clear that he has sees many other problems with the law. Why not challenge Hayworth on them?
Hayworth's response was "you can call me J.D." and don't worry, the gun law is fine.
Absolutely no push-back from Ed on Hayworth's support for Arizona's immigration law. No push-back from Ed on Hayworth's support for the conceal-carry gun law. They then agree it would be wrong to recruit citizen sharp shooters to patrol the border.
Ed's next searing question: How many troops would it take to secure the border? J.D. thinks 5,000 and blasts McCain for only wanting 3,000.
Then Ed moved on to Arizona's pending Birther law. Time to get out the popcorn, right? J.D.'s a Birther, so surely Ed took him apart:
ED: I also think that a lot of this, Mr. Hayworth, comes from the dislike of the President of the United States. The whole Birther thing. C'mon, he was born in the United States. I feel like we're taking a step backward. What do you think?
J.D.: Oh sure, look. As far as I'm concerned trying to invalidate Mr. Obama's election and trying to call into question his birth certificate strikes me as esoteric...Mr. Obama is the President of the United States.
J.D.: Arizona's Birther bill is too narrowly drawn. Right now we're asking voters to present their own I.D's to be able to vote. Now, if we're going to ask that for voters shouldn't we ask that of every candidate on the ballot for every job on the state ballot.
Did Ed follow-up when Hayworth dodged the question on Obama's citizenship? Nope. "It's esoteric" is a good enough answer, apparently. Did he call out Hayworth for his pro-Birther past rhetoric? Nope.
Maybe he explored Hayworth's association with Jack Abramoff? Afraid not.
Ed's final question:
Quick answer: you gonna beat John McCain?
I'm not going to argue against using the National Guard to patrol the border, as part of comprehensive immigration reform. But Schultz's call for immediately sending 15,000 soldiers to the Arizona-Mexico borders is unrealistic, counter-productive, and only empowers Republicans who will try to shut down comprehensive reform with calls to secure the border first. J.D. Hayworth was more than happy to have what turned out to a friendly forum for promoting the anti-immigrant GOP agenda.
Does Ed's "surge now, reform later" attitude reflect opinions within organized later? Will organized labor be an ally in Democratic efforts to reform immigration? Here's how it went down in 2007:
The threat that labor poses to the bill has gone largely unrecognized in part because three prominent unions — the service employees, the farm workers, and the hotel, restaurant and apparel workers — have backed the legislation. But that support, advocates say, has been outweighed by opposition from the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and virtually all other unions, including auto workers, Teamsters, food and commercial workers, and construction unions.
Supporters of the bill say that the A.F.L.-C.I.O., in opposing the legislation, is focused on protecting the gains that its mostly middle-class members have made in pay and benefits over the decades. To the labor federation, the big worry is that the bill’s guest worker provision will pull down wages, take away jobs from Americans and exploit immigrants.
Will the unions be there for the Democrats this time? Should they be? It will depend of the Democrats' ability to craft a bill that will hold their coalition together. And if Ed Schultz is any indication, that won't be an easy task.
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