Per the Times, or Nedra Pickler of the AP, it sounds as if Hillary was assaulted at the Dem debate last night by six Democratic rivals, two moderators, and an angry usher. What, no cabbie complaining about his tip? One wonders whether Hillary can turn this into a "bunch of mean men ganging up on the poor little woman" scenario. As if.
The Politico adds this:
PHILADELPHIA - - We now know something that we did not know before: When Hillary Clinton has a bad night, she really has a bad night.
In a debate against six Democratic opponents at Drexel University here Tuesday, Clinton gave the worst performance of her entire campaign.
It was not just that her answer about whether illegal immigrants should be issued drivers’ licenses was at best incomprehensible and at worst misleading.
It was that for two hours she dodged and weaved, parsed and stonewalled.
Let's ignore space constraints and go to the transcript for the fateful exchange on licenses for
illegal not-yet-documented immigrants:
MR. RUSSERT: Thank you, Brian.
Senator Clinton, Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer has proposed giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. You told the Nashua, New Hampshire editorial board it makes a lot of sense. Why does it make a lot of sense to give an illegal immigrant a driver's license?
SEN. CLINTON: Well, what Governor Spitzer is trying to do is fill the vacuum left by the failure of this administration to bring about comprehensive immigration reform. We know in New York we have several million at any one time who are in New York illegally. They are undocumented workers. They are driving on our roads. The possibility of them having an accident that harms themselves or others is just a matter of the odds. It's probability. So what Governor Spitzer is trying to do is to fill the vacuum.
I believe we need to get back to comprehensive immigration reform because no state, no matter how well-intentioned, can fill this gap.
There needs to be federal action on immigration reform.
MR. RUSSERT: Does anyone here believe an illegal immigrant should not have a driver's license?
REP. KUCINICH: Believe what?
MR. RUSSERT: An illegal immigrant should not have a driver's license.
SEN. DODD: This is a privilege. And look, I'm as forthright and progressive on immigration policy as anyone here, but we're dealing with a serious problem here, we need to have people come forward. The idea that we're going to extend this privilege here of a driver's license, I think, is troublesome. And I think the American people are reacting to it.
We need to deal with security on our borders, we need to deal with the attraction that draws people here, we need to deal fairly with those who are here; but this is a privilege. Talk about health care, I have a different opinion. That affects the public health of all of us. But a license is a privilege, and that ought not to be extended, in my view.
MR. WILLIAMS: Who else? Senator --
SEN. CLINTON: I just want to add, I did not say that it should be done, but I certainly recognize why Governor Spitzer is trying to do it. And we have failed --
SEN. DODD: Wait a minute. No, no, no. You said yes, you thought it made sense to do it.
SEN. CLINTON: No, I didn't, Chris. But the point is, what are we going to do with all these illegal immigrants who are (driving ?) -- (inaudible)?
SEN. DODD: Well, that's a legitimate issue. But driver's license goes too far, in my view.
SEN. CLINTON: Well, you may say that, but what is the identification if somebody runs into you today who is an undocumented worker --
SEN. DODD: There's ways of dealing with that.
SEN. CLINTON: Well, but --
SEN. DODD: This is a privilege, not a right.
SEN. CLINTON: Well, what Governor Spitzer has agreed to do is to have three different licenses; one that provides identification for actually going onto airplanes and other kinds of security issues, another which is an ordinary driver's license, and then a special card that identifies the people who would be on the road.
SEN. DODD: That's a bureaucratic nightmare.
SEN. CLINTON: So it's not the full privilege.
MR. RUSSERT: Senator Clinton, I just want to make sure what I heard. Do you, the New York Senator Hillary Clinton, support the New York governor's plan to give illegal immigrants a driver's license? You told the Nashua, New Hampshire, paper it made a lot of sense.
SEN. CLINTON: It --
MR. RUSSERT: Do you support his plan?
SEN. CLINTON: You know, Tim, this is where everybody plays gotcha. It makes a lot of sense. What is the governor supposed to do? He is dealing with a serious problem. We have failed, and George Bush has failed.
Do I think this is the best thing for any governor to do? No. But do I understand the sense of real desperation, trying to get a handle on this? Remember, in New York we want to know who's in New York. We want people to come out of the shadows. He's making an honest effort to do it. We should have passed immigration reform.
MR. WILLIAMS: New subject.
Senator Edwards, you have young children. As you know, the Internet can be a bit of a cultural Wild West. Assuming a lot of homes don't have parental support, would you be in favor of any government guidelines on Internet content?
MR. EDWARDS: For children and try to protect children and using technology to protect children? I would.
I want to add something that Chris Dodd just said a minute ago, because I don't want it to go unnoticed. Unless I missed something, Senator Clinton said two different things in the course of about two minutes just a few minutes ago, and I think this is a real issue for the country.
I mean, America is looking for a president who will say the same thing, who will be consistent, who will be straight with them. Because what we've had for seven years is double-talk from Bush and from Cheney, and I think America deserves us to be straight.
MR. WILLIAMS: Senator Obama, why are you nodding your head?
SEN. OBAMA: Well, I was confused on Senator Clinton's answer. I can't tell whether she was for it or against it, and I do think that is important. You know, one of the things that we have to do in this country is to be honest about the challenges that we face.
Immigration is a difficult issue. But part of leadership is not just looking backwards and seeing what's popular, or trying to gauge popular sentiment. It's about setting a direction for the country, and that's what I intend to do as president.
MR. WILLIAMS: Are you for it or against it?
SEN. OBAMA: I think that it is a -- the right idea. And I disagree with Chris, because there is a public safety concern. We can make sure that drivers who are illegal come out of the shadows, that they can be tracked, that they are properly trained, and that will make our roads safer. That doesn't negate the need for us to reform illegal immigration.
Hillary does mention that Gov. Spitzer, under pressure from many including Mr. Chertoff of the Department of Homeland Security, announced last Saturday a complicated three-tiered plan which has itself come under criticism. First, the plan, as described by Nick Confessore of the Times:
Under the revised plan, New York will offer a new, highly secure state driver’s license, known as Real ID. It would be available only to citizens and legal immigrants and comply with new federal rules, and it could be used to board domestic flights and enter federal buildings. Two other types of licenses would be offered: an enhanced driver’s license that New Yorkers who are citizens could use to cross the Canadian border without a passport, and a less expensive, limited license available to illegal immigrants and others that would not be a valid federal identification.
And some criticisms, also found in the Times:
One criticism that has been raised is that the personal information will be entered in databases that will be shared by every state, raising questions about how the data will be secured and how safe its storage will be.
“That’s an identity thief’s dream,” said Christopher Calabrese, counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union’s technology and liberty program.
Mr. Calabrese said that Mr. Spitzer’s proposal to create a driver’s license that would appeal largely to undocumented immigrants presents “a much more dangerous condition” for them.
“What we’re going to have,” he said, “is a list of undocumented aliens, and there’s no way New York will be able to keep the federal government’s hands off this list and protect the people whose names are on the list.
And this, from a Times editorial:
As outlined, the new agreement between New York and Washington would create three licenses. One would comply with the still-undecided federal standards for the Real ID Act, and another would be for those who want to go to Canada without using a passport. The third license would not be valid as identification to board airplanes or enter federal buildings.
It is license No. 3 — the cheapest and easiest to get — that would be offered to all New York residents, including the undocumented. The Spitzer people say that they would not share information about the immigration status of any of these third-tier drivers. But as immigrant advocates have already pointed out, who else would really want this license except those who cannot qualify for anything else? As other states have learned, a separate but unequal license for immigrants does not work. Undocumented workers would not come out of the shadows to apply for a driving permit that they believe would make them a target for any official on a crusade against illegal immigrants.
So let's see - Spitzer's new plan is to create a list of undocumented aliens and share that with the Feds; he will also hand out Third Tier licenses that strongly imply the holder is an undocumented alien. And Hillary supports this? Is this plan really better than doing nothing? Are the undocumented really going to emerge from the shadows to get this restricted and potentially embarrassing license, or is Spitzer simply proposing an expensive waste of time?
And just what does Sen. Obama support here - the new Spitzer Three Tiered approach, or Spitzer's initial plan to offer licenses to all? Fortunately it was Hilloween Eve, so that question went unasked.
OLD TIMES: Apropos of nothing other than nostalgia for the glory days of the Right Wing Attack Machine, this old post united Nick Confessore and Nedra Pickler, for the first and only time.