Last Call At the Immigration Bar

There’s been so much excitement over the last week about the immigration issue that you just have to remind yourself that the first time it was mentioned by Mitt Romney in the general election campaign (yesterday, at the NALEO conference) was almost certainly the last time. Aside from the fact that Obama preempted and trumped his apparent effort to let Marco Rubio offer him a way to crawl unobtrusively into a less Latino-repellent position, Romney really has nowhere else to go unless he is willing to execute a full flip-flop, always hazardous for a pol who may have used up his lifetime supply of flip-flops. Right now he is thoroughly painted into a corner, as Nathan Pippenger observes today at TNR:

if Romney becomes president next January it’s hard to predict exactly what he’s going to want. He opposes immigration reform (as basically everyone in Washington understands it), but he’s unhappy with Barack Obama for not passing it. He criticizes short-term administrative solutions, but he aspires to lead the party that makes long-term legislative solutions impossible. And he claims to want common ground while refusing to abandon his hard-line opposition to the DREAM Act, the single most important “common ground” law. President Obama can be justly criticized for many miscalculations and failings when it comes to immigration, but his basic strategy and goals are clear enough. If we end up with a President Romney, I’m not even sure what failure would look like.

Until such time, if ever, when the mystery of a President Romney is unveiled, you can be pretty sure any mention of the immigration issue will send him setting a new speed ecord in the immediate utterance of his campaign’s signature demand that no one be allowed to talk about anything other than the economy.

Now if he can only figure out how to talk about “Fast and Furious”….

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.