Questions for Martha McSally: Still hiding in the bunker on immigration reform

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

A GOP candidate should understand that they are in trouble when even the GOP-friendly Arizona Capitol Times identifies you as the candidate who will not answer questions. One question dominates congressional race in southern Arizona:

ChickenbunkerSo far, McSally’s campaign has mimicked her 2012 effort. The personable candidate isn’t quick to share her stance on issues beyond her own philosophical views.

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McSally has remained reluctant to take solid stances on current issues, most notably dodging questions about how she would have voted on spending bills that led to the government shutdown and then a compromise bill that ended the congressional stalemate in October.

A recent Rothenberg Political Report praised McSally, who “oozes confidence about her prospects,” but also noted she “did her best to bob and weave” when asked how she’d vote on the compromise to reopen the government.

It’s not the only interview in which McSally has avoided providing a solid answer.  She told the Arizona Capitol Times it isn’t her job to Monday-morning quarterback what’s happening in Washington, D.C.

“I’m not in Congress, so I’m not running a shadow congressional staff that’s sitting there and getting all the briefings that they have the privilege of having there, and I usually don’t like to weigh in on legislation I haven’t read,” McSally said.

She said southern Arizona voters are worried about other matters.

“They’re interested in understanding my character, and my philosophy on things and how I would come to decisions that I’ll make in the future,” she said.

Political observers say the cautious campaign style may not work to McSally’s advantage, particularly in a GOP primary field where other candidates may run to the right of her.

Republican voters in Tucson want to know how McSally and others would cast votes in Congress, even if it’s a hypothetical vote.

“Otherwise, how are we going to know who to vote for?” said Carolyn Cox, chairwoman of the Pima County Republican Party. “We’ve been very disappointed in all of our candidates, especially the Democrats, for voting for a bill they’ve never even read.”

The Tucson Weekly's Jim Nintzel follows up his interview of McSally from last week, Questions for Martha McSally: Jim Nintzel doesn't get an answer either, this week trying to get an answer from her about the immigration reform bills pending before Congress. Spoiler alert, all McSally offers are the the standard GOP talking points, turning every issue into an "ObamaCare" fixation, and offering no policy prescriptions of her own. Uncertain Path:

Q: What are your thoughts on a path to citizenship for people who are in the country illegally?

Can I give you my perspective on the whole immigration debate? [blah, blah, blah] . . . Lumping it all together the way they have in the Senate—I mean, I get politically why they felt they had to do some of that to get different sides to agree to stuff, but I think we're now seeing, in the example of Obamacare, that when you have a big monstrosity of legislation that tries to solve a whole lot of problems all together, that is really complex, and that has lots of federal agencies involved, and new authorities and programs and things like that, I think we're seeing with Obamacare that that's not necessarily a positive thing for us. So the trust in government and government agencies to actually do something well and efficiently has been diminished over the last year. So what should our priorities be? We need to reform legal immigration. We do need to secure the border. This is not just an immigration issue, it's a security issue, with all the illegal activity and the cartels and the violence that is coming through. That's got to be addressed still and hasn't been. And the Senate bill tried to address that by throwing money at the problem there at the end to get Republican votes. Money isn't the issue. It's the strategy that is the issue. We need a better strategy about how to secure the border and we need to also do it in a way that we're encouraging commerce and we're taking advantage of our close proximity to Mexico. . . . There is legitimate concern that any change to the status of people who are here illegally, if it is not done correctly, it could look just like the 1980s, when you had, I don't know what you'd call it …

Q: I think that was straight-up amnesty.

It didn't secure the border and it didn't disincentivize any further illegal activity. So I think there's legitimate concern, if we are changing the status of an illegal, how would it be different from last time?

 

Sooo, McSally is sticking to the nativist anti-immigrant GOP talking point of "border security first" — even though by any metric border security has improved substantially since the last time an immigration reform bill was under consideration in Congress in 2007. McSally does not identify the metric she would employ, or who would make the determination. Is it the 90% secure as determined by the Department of Homeland Security proposed by some? Or is it the unachievable goal of 100% secure determined by Congress?

I will give a point to McSally for her rejection of the $40 billion "border surge" of the the Corker-Hoeven amendment that even Senator Corker said was "almost overkill." Almost? With her emphasis on "border security first," it is not at all clear from her response that McSally is opposed to the militarization of the border, although she appears to hedge with her emphasis on "encouraging commerce and we're taking advantage of our close proximity to Mexico." She is straddling the fence, so to speak, trying to have it both ways.

But for all her "perspective," the simple answer to this question is that McSally is opposed to a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented because she considers it "amnesty" — the rallying cry of the nativist anti-immigrant GOP. She makes this clear in her response to the next question:

I think the priority needs to be to reform the legal system to get it more streamlined, to secure the border, and once we have built confidence and trust in the government again, we can maybe look at that next element of it as a political solution by upholding the rule of law, making sure that people know there are penalties when they have broken the law, and ensuring that they are not given an advantage over those who have chosen to [not] break the law. So reform the legal immigration system to have one path to citizenship through that, whatever that is. That would be reform. Right now, it's a painfully long, arduous, confusing path for people to legally do it. So whatever that reform would look like, that would based more on our economic benefit. I think then you have a discussion on allowing some legal status, with penalties and upholding the rule of law, and not a second or special path to citizenship, if that makes sense. There needs to be one path to citizenship and those who have broken the law don't get a special path.

Q: Should they be given a path at all?

I think that should be open for discussion.

So you're not strongly opposed or strongly supportive either way?

I'm open to that discussion, but I think the priority needs to be reforming the legal immigration system, adjusting the border security, upholding the rule of law and making sure we have trust in the system so we're not further incentivizing illegal activity.

In other words, all she's got are GOP talking points, no policy prescriptions of her own. And she will not take a stand. I get the sense that McSally doesn't spend a whole lot of time doing critical thinking about issues. . . despite all her "philosophically" speaking. When she says "some legal status," what exactly does she mean? Because she is rejecting a "special pathway" to citizenship for the undocumented already here.

So what about the DREAMERS, the young children who were brought here by their parents, and who have only known America as their home? McSally reverts to the easy ad hominem attack on President Obama and his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, rather than take a stand on the DREAMERS.

I think, philosophically, he was doing that because the 2012 election was coming up and he was doing everything as a campaign move, it seems. I prefer that these things go through Congress, even though Congress is dysfunctional. The executive orders that he's putting out, I don't agree with philosophically. I get that we need to have compassion for the kids who were brought here not of their own choice. I get that. We do need to address that. So I think the way Obama dealt with it was more about the election.

Q: If he hadn't dealt with it that way, would you rather they still be on the wrong side of the law and be rounded up and deported?

I would rather that Congress would have addressed it thoughtfully. It's difficult to address that as a single issue when you're not addressing the bigger issues of how are we going to reform the system so we're not just dealing with this symptom of a larger problem that continues to perpetuate because we're not addressing border security and we're not addressing the legal immigration system.

Sooo, McSally first rejects a comprehensive immigration reform bill because it's "like ObamaCare," but she also rejects the piecemeal approach advanced by some Tea-Publicans in the House to at least give the DREAMERS "some legal status" so that they are not deported to a country to which they have never known. And what is her time frame? Her response implies that a lot of things have to happen before she is even willing to consider the DREAMERS.

Trying to get Martha McSally to take a stand on any issue is like trying to nail Jello to a wall. Her political strategy is to avoid taking a stand on any issue, by her own admission. The media, and certainly the voters, should not accept this from any candidate. It is arrogant and disdainful of the voters.

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