McCain, Limbaugh, Forests, and Trees

Jake Tapper argues that Obama’s Spanish-language radio ad linking John McCain to Rush Limbaugh is a distortion. He’s got a kernel of a point, but that point itself is distorted.

Tapper really goes into wingnut territory when he tries to exonerate Limbaugh from the charge of crude anti-Latino prejudice. His stronger argument is that Limbaugh hates McCain: to conflate the two, he says, is a cheap shot.

That’s wrong, for a simple reason. We do not just elect Presidents in a presidential election; we elect administrations.

McCain has been running perhaps the most right-wing campaign since Robert Taft. He has cozied up to the GOP’s Taliban wing for several months now. He has acknowledged that he would not vote for his own immigration bill if it came up for a vote. Whom do you think he will appoint to key positions that concern immigration?

We know that the one time he had to make an appointment–his running mate–he caved to the social conservative base. One might even call Palin a dittohead.

Tapper seems to acknowledge this, but nevertheless insists that all McCain is saying that the country “has to secure its borders” before embarking on a more comprehensive bill.

This is a cop-out: given the enormous push factors on immigration, to say that he will not move toward a comprehensive solution until illegal immigration is reduced to a trickle is saying that he will never do it.

Just as importantly, Tapper claims that Obama was wrong to say that “McCain is no friend of Latinos at all.” Look: political advertisements aren’t about psychoanalysis, and neither are elections. It just doesn’t matter what McCain might or might not believe in his heart of hearts: for myself, I suspect that any moderate impulses he might have on the issue are about agribusiness and political demographics. But it’s really irrelevant.

The point is: what will a McCain Administration do on the issues? McCain’s campaign has made that very clear. And no amount of parsing will change that.

By the way: I suspect any pushback on this won’t work well, especially because McCain now can’t afford to separate himself from Limbaugh, and because apparently he doesn’t know the difference between Spain and Latin America.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.