How Vague is Too Vague?

This was clearly the question in the Mitt Romney camp this morning, as the Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s immigration law came down: How little can we get by with saying? When it comes to practically any issue beyond the economy, the clear challenge for the Romney campaign has become how to say something that offends no one, while still giving all sides of the issue a fig leaf to latch onto. Also, of course, how to make everything a referendum on Obama, so that maybe it won’t matter that Romney says nada. Hence the intentionally forgettable but also very telling statement from the Republican candidate, in full:

Today’s decision underscores the need for a President who will lead on this critical issue and work in a bipartisan fashion to pursue a national immigration strategy. President Obama has failed to provide any leadership on immigration. This represents yet another broken promise by this President. I believe that each state has the duty–and the right–to secure our borders and preserve the rule of law, particularly when the federal government has failed to meet its responsibilities. As Candidate Obama, he promised to present an immigration plan during his first year in office. But 4 years later, we are still waiting.

The irony of assailing Obama’s leadership while offering no direction on the issue has already been widely mocked. (“Mitt Romney Leads on Immigration by Releasing Vague, Useless Statement,” was Dan Amira’s unbeatable headline at Daily Intel.) But you have to admit: There’s a real art to this. Romney calls for a “national immigration strategy”—but doesn’t say whether that’s a strategy with a path to citizenship and work permits, or a strategy for inducing self-deportation. Then he throws the states’-rights folks a bone by implying—but only implying!—that Arizona has every right to stop and frisk and detain anyone who looks like, you know, one of those. There is no question that Romney is between the proverbial rock and hard place on immigration. Republicans adore the Arizona law; Latinos are fleeing Romney in droves. But at some point, doesn’t a candidate for president have to find something concrete to say about his “national strategy” on one of the day’s most pressing issues? If not, American politics might be in even more dismal straits than we thought.

So They Say

"My treat, now. This is legal. I could not do this in front of a polling place, buy you ice cream. But I can do it here."

President Obama, offering to pick up the tab for patrons at the Dairy Bar in Durham, New Hampshire. For the record, the commander-in-chief had a hot fudge sundae.

Daily Meme: Behind Closed Doors

  • Romney held a super-secret meeting with donors in Utah this weekend. Or as John Nichols termed it, "the posh Utah ski resort where the Republican crown prince will plot his coronation."
  • The price of admission? “Your six minutes with Rove.”
  • Good thing Karl was a laugh a minute!
  • As was Ann Romney.
  • Over 700 people attended the two-day fete, which cost a minimum of $50,000 per donor.
  • Jeb Bush, John McCain, and James Baker were among the many hot entertainers at the event.
  • Veepstakes buzz was also rampant.
  • Scorned Marco Rubio, however, had better things to do.
  • The head of pro-Romney super PAC "Restore Our Future" was also there … sparking rumors of coordination between the campaign and the money magnet that they quickly tried to quash.
  • Attendees also got sweet swag: "a beige Vineyard Vines duffel bag embroidered with 'Believe in America' on one side and a 'circular flag-style emblem and "Romney" on the reverse.'" 
  • The Koch brothers also held a super-secret donor gathering. Protesters raged … even though they had no idea where the event was taking place.


What We're Writing

  • Garrett Epps: The U.S. Supreme Court has a very different definition of “corruption” than the Montana Supremes.
  • Abby Rapoport: What does today’s Arizona ruling mean for other states?


What We're Reading

  • Montana isn't the only state hurting after today's Supreme Court decision on campaign finance. Twenty-four other states saw similar laws rendered null
  • Yes, the Supreme Court did steal the election in Bush v. Gore.
  • E.J. Dionne wonders whether Americans will learn to love the Affordable Care Actafter it’s struck down.
  • Today’s immigration decision is bad news for the Romney campaign.
  • GQ checks in with Bob Dole, still our favorite "old man with old-man stuff going on in his head."     
  • There's an important Democratic primary in New York City tomorrow; here's a handy guide to all the big races.
  • Steve Coll: "Radical nativism is turning America’s foundational narrative into a wedge issue, and Republican leaders are going along, unwilling to challenge their base’s dislocated anger."


Poll of the Day

Will Senator Orrin Hatch survive a Tea Party challenge in tomorrow’s Utah primary? Easy-peasy, if the latest survey has it right.

You may also like