Government in the sunshine

I suppose if Republicans can’t trust Barack Obama to tell the truth about what he says to them behind closed doors – or could it be the other way around? – there’s no alternative but to have TV cameras rolling at every such meeting. If I were the President, I’d insist on it.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

7 thoughts on “Government in the sunshine”

  1. Obama, Republicans… There isn't anybody in that room who should be trusted, and they all know it.

  2. Frustrating how you never get probed by a space alien, or catch the President blurting out that all your dark claims about him are true, until after you've "kicked the rest of the people out" of the room.

    Kyl’s press guy’s comment that "the White House spokesman’s pushback that you must have comprehensive immigration reform to secure the border only confirms Senator Kyl’s account" leaves open the possibility that he misunderstood the difference between (1) a claim that, absent CIR, proposed border measures won’t be effective, & (2) an admission of intent not to implement effective border measures, absent CIR. Sadly, it’s unlikely they’ll have many private opportunities to clear this up any time soon. (Would you wanna be alone in a room w/ Kyl?)

    Did Kyl still somehow think he could toss out this kind of bubba-bait at a constituent meeting w/o anyone noticing? (You'd think he'd know by now that everything he says, on this subject especially, is gonna be scrutinized; but he evidently wasn’t prepared for the attention this drew.)

    Politicians who seek to profit by fomenting anti-immigrant anger are riding a tiger’s back. In the video you can sense Kyl’s unease as he labors to keep on his audience’s right side. There will be more episodes like this, in which, in order to keep their audiences from turning on them, people feel lead to say things that embarrass them before a wider audience.

  3. Keep in mind there were only two people in the room, and they're BOTH politicians, and thus presumptively liars. If either of them had meant for lying about what they said during that meeting to be impossible, it wouldn't have been behind closed doors without a microphone.

    We had a promise of border security in return for an amnesty, which is what "comprehensive immigration reform" really means. It's a matter of history that we got the amnesty, and didn't get the border security. Give us the border security FIRST, or we will assume you mean to give it to us NEVER. We're not Charlie Brown, any you're not Lucy; Don't expect perpetual trust in the face of betrayals.

  4. Needless to say, requiring TV cameras at all meetings means that progress grinds to a halt, as neither side can be seen to move from their publically declared positions. The only things is I'm not sure how that is a change from the present situation, at least on the Republican side.

  5. Brett Bellmore says:

    "Keep in mind there were only two people in the room, and they’re BOTH politicians, and thus presumptively liars. "

    Drop the libertarian act, Brett – we've seen you bow down before the government of Israel, so it's not that you don't trust *politicians*, it's that you don't trust non-Likud politicians.

  6. Kyl didn’t tell his listeners why he insisted that everyone leave the Oval Office, but in fairness I doubt it was so he could lie more extravagantly. Likewise, I suspect Obama indulged Kyl's request out of courtesy, not so he could lie more extravagantly.

    Popular anti-immigrant sentiment is inchoate; it didn’t arise from anything so specific as P.L. 99-603. (The big IRCA trade-off was in any event between regularization & employer sanctions, not border security.) The notion that the restrictionist public only resists CIR because IRCA didn’t close the border as allegedly promised originated as a House Republican talking point & is now incessantly repeated in the rightwing media. To the extent members of the public have come to express themselves in this way, it’s because they saw a politician on TV tell them that’s what they were thinking, & believed it. (Nobody’s more credulous than a barroom cynic.) Restrictionist opposition to regularizing the 12 million isn’t really conditional. If it were, it’d be simple enough to write the conditionality into the law. The point is rather to buy time for “attrition through enforcement” to work, & to shelter guilty consciences from the reality of population transfer.

    There's a policy debate whether border measures alone can stop new illegal entries. It's unhelpful to mischaracterize people who've concluded they can't by alleging that they've admitted that they refuse to protect the American people.

  7. Kyl retreated a bit yesterday in an odd dual interview w/ McCain on Greta Van Susteren's Fox show:

    Kyl: Well, I, I’m not trying to make a big deal out of it. He just told me what he told me, and I accept that. We were talking about the difficulties of moving forward, and one of the things he said was that there are people on “his side” that, uh, uh, believe that, uh, if we secure the border, then people on, I think his words were “you guys,” meaning Republicans, uh, would be less likely to support comprehensive immigration reform. And, uh, that’s why they weren’t supportive of it.

    The difference here is that in this version, Kyl claims only that Obama said that there are people who don't support border security because they think that if the border were secured, Republicans would be less likely to support CIR. In the previous version, Kyl leaves the impression that Obama said he himself was one of those people.

    Kyl seems chagrined about the whole thing. (He's got bigger problems. His main occupation this year seems to be to serve as McCain's goat, to step in when McCain goes off the track, & to support him generally in his renomination campaign. It's an odd position for a US Senator.)

    . More often than not, when he speaks in public, McCain has a minder present to guide & qualify i

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