Stand back, folks, while I defend Mitt Romney over the question of who cuts his lawn. Patrick has the details on the original case below, but here's the exchange between Romney and Rick Perry that happened during last night's debate:
Many people, even those of us who are not as rich as Mitt, have had services provided in their homes. Even if you cut your own grass, chances are you don't patch the chimney yourself if there's a leak, or fix the washing machine when it breaks. You call someone with the tools and expertise to do that job, and they do it. I'll come clean on this one and reveal that we have a service that cleans out our gutters twice a year. Not only do I not demand to see the Social Security numbers of everyone on the crew, for all I know they could be three-headed aliens from the planet Glagrax; every six months they show up, clomp around on the roof for about ten minutes, and then they're gone and we get a bill in the mail. Does it really make you "soft" on immigration if you don't demand to see papers from everyone who ever comes to provide you that kind of a service?
Perry would like us to believe that Mitt, the hard-working, multiple-home-owning mega-millionaire, was personally supervising the landscaping crew the company he hired sent over, and that one of the workers pulled him aside and said, "Senor, I must confess I am in the country illegally," and Mitt looked furtively from side to side and said, "Let's keep that between you and me, Manuel."
There are over 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States. There are a variety of valid approaches to immigration policy, but outside of a few nutballs who join the Minutemen, no one really thinks that private citizens have an obligation to personally identify and seize any undocumented person they encounter. I'll bet that Rick Perry once ate in a restaurant where his dishes were washed by an undocumented immigrant. Would that mean that he was in favor of maintaining the status quo? If Mitt should have demanded to see papers for everyone the landscaping company sent to his house, then Rick ought to make sure everyone employed by the restaurant he eats in is in the country legally, too. But nobody expects him to do that.
Either way, we seem to now be entering the "I hate fer'ners more than you!" "No, I hate fer'ners the most!" phase of the Republican nominating campaign, a period we suffered through four years ago. Fun for all.