Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) was supposed to be the Tea Party’s messiah. He thinks Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional. He rebels against climate science. And he would eliminate all national banking and consumer protection laws. There’s just one problem. Perry also signed a law that treats undocumented immigrant children as human beings — something Perry’s base vehemently opposes.
So leading conservatives spent most of yesterday proclaiming their new savior: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Before the GOP anoints Christie as their new Chosen One, however, they might want to take a moment to consider the New Jersey governor’s eminently reasonable record on immigration. Simply put, Chris Christie makes Rick Perry look like Tom Tancredo:
Chris Christie is hardly the ally that illegal-immigration foes are looking for. In 2010, Christie told Politico that America needs to come up with a “clear path to citizenship.” He didn’t say “for illegal immigrants,” but since America already has a clear path to citizenship for legal immigrants, that’s what he meant. This is an entirely reasonable and mainstream position, but in much of the GOP, they call it “amnesty.”
Christie’s opponents could also point to the time he insisted that being in the country illegally is not a crime but an “administrative matter.” He’s right — simply overstaying your visa, for example, can get you deported but can’t land you in jail. But to impassioned illegal-immigration warriors, we’re not sure the nuance will be appreciated.
Then there’s Christie’s record on illegal immigration as a U.S. Attorney in New Jersey, the job he held before he became governor. Back in 2008, Bill Tucker, a producer on Lou Dobbs’s now-deceased CNN show, could only find thirteen illegal-immigration cases prosecuted by Christie’s office between 2002 and 2007. Tucker compared that to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Kansas, which, despite a much smaller population, prosecuted 597 cases in the same time period. “This man is an utter embarrassment,” Dobbs wailed.
Indeed, Dobbs had a whole lot of other choice phrases for Christie’s “arrogance, incompetence and cuteness,” which you can watch here:
So Christie is hardly qualified for the job of ultra-pure defender of Tea Party values, but the truth really is that no one is. If Rick Perry’s plan to kill Social Security, eliminate national child labor laws and the minimum wage, thumb his nose at science, and turn the keys of the nation’s economy over to Goldman Sachs and Bank of America isn’t enough to satisfy the Republican base, it’s tough to imagine anyone who would be so untainted by reason that they could succeed where Perry failed.