1) Given how he so often says he wakes up every morning thinking about what he could do to create jobs, it’s interesting that he says his inability to pass comprehensive immigration reform (even when he totally controlled Congress) was his biggest failure. But I suppose that can be written off as simple pandering.
Which, incidentally, didn’t work, since Ramos did not let him off the hook later in the interview,
2) His biggest lesson, meanwhile, is that “you can’t change Washington from the inside.” Wait a second. In the 2008 primaries, his whole argument with Hillary Clinton was over this exact question. She believed that you can change Washington from the inside and Barack Obama said you couldn’t.
You told me during an interview that you and Mr. Holder did not authorize the Fast and Furious operation that allowed 2,000 weapons from the United States into Mexico and they were in the drug trafficking [cartels'] hands,” Univision co-host Jorge Ramos asked Obama, according to a translator, during the interview. “I think that up to 100 Mexicans might have died and also American agent Brian Terry. There’s a report that 14 agents were responsible for the operation but shouldn’t the attorney general, Eric Holder, he should have known about that and if he didn’t, should you fire him?”
Obama responded with similar talking points his administration has used time and again.
“Well, first of all, I think it’s important to understand that the Fast and Furious program was a field-initiated program, begun under the previous administration,” Obama said. “When Eric Holder found out about it, he discontinued it. We assigned an inspector general to do a thorough report that was just issued — confirming that in fact Eric Holder did not know about this, that he took prompt action and that the people who did initiate this were held accountable. But, what I think is most important is recognizing that we’ve got a challenge in terms of weapons flowing south, and the strategy that was pursued out of Arizona, obviously, was completely wrongheaded. Those folks who were responsible have been held accountable. The question now is, how do we move forward with a strategy that will actually work?”
“We are going to have to work with Mexican law enforcement to accomplish this, but I will tell you that Eric Holder has my complete confidence, because he has shown himself to be willing to hold accountable those who took these actions and is passionate about making sure that we’re preventing guns from getting into the wrong hands,” Obama continued.
Ramos followed up in English: “But if you have nothing to hide, then why are you not releasing papers to the –”
Obama responded: “The truth is we’ve released thousands of papers.
“We’ve released almost all of them,” Obama said. “The ones that we don’t release, typically, relate to internal communications that were not related to the actual Fast and Furious operation. The challenge that we have is that, at any given moment in the federal government, there may be people who do dumb things, and I’ve seen it, I promise. Ultimately, I’m responsible and my key managers, including the attorney general, are responsible for holding those people accountable, for making sure that they are fired if they do dumb things and then fixing the system to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, and I’m very confident that you will not see any kinds of actions like this in the future, but what I don’t like to see is these kinds of issues becoming political circuses or ways to score political points in Congress partly because it becomes a distraction from us doing the business that we need to do for the American people.”
When pressed on for an independent investigation,
Obama answered: “Well, understand that, not only have we had multiple hearings in Congress, but the inspector general is put in place specifically to be independent from the attorney general. This attorney general’s [sic] report was not a whitewash in any way. I mean, it was tough on the Justice Department, and it indicated that, potentially, more supervision was needed, people should have known in some cases, even if they didn’t actually know. So, it was, I think, independent, honest, it was a clear assessment of what had gone wrong in that situation.”
“And we are happy to continue to provide the information that is relevant to this, but one of the things that happens in Washington is, very quickly, these issues become political distractions as opposed to us actually solving the problems that we need to solve,” Obama continued. “And, this issue of guns flowing south is a hard issue to solve, because this country respects the Second Amendment, we want to protect the rights of gun owners and those who are seeking to purchase firearms, but oftentimes that’s exploited as well. And so we’ve got to make sure we’re properly balancing the rights of U.S. citizens but making sure that we’re also interdicting those arms that would get into the hands of criminals.”
Video below the fold, since it starts right away, (more…)
Spanish-language station Univision is holding two question and answer sessions with the Presidential candidates. Last night was Mitt’s turn.
The show was at the University of Miami in front of a live audience, with simultaneous interpreters (the man translating Romney did a brilliant job). Jorge Ramos, Univision’s Mexican anchorman and pro-illegal immigration/open borders advocate, and Maria Elena Salinas asked the questions. Here’s the first part of the show,
[CORRECTION: video below the fold below since it starts right away]
The first question was on the 47%. Romney answered he’s about the 100 percent of America:
“The last several years you’ve seen greater and greater divisiveness in this country,” said the GOP hopeful. “We had hoped to come back together. But instead you’ve seen us pull apart. And politics has driven us apart in some respects. So my campaign is about the 100 percent of America. And I’m concerned about them. I’m concerned about the fact that over the last four years life has become harder for Americans.”
The second question was on immigration. Romney emphasized that Obama’s recent executive order is a temporary measure, while “I will reform immigration the immigration system”; Salinas tried to interrupt but Romney asserted that he wants permanent solutions and he supports Marco Rubio’s ideas. Salinas asked about deportations and Romney answered that we need to find permanent solutions instead of deportations or Obama’s temporary plan. Ramos pressed on deportations and got boo’ed. Romney replied that self-deportation is an individual’s choice and emphasized legal immigration as vital to the US’s growth. Ramos asked about the Arizona law, to which Romney replied that the reason the states are taking measures is the Obama’s administration failure to find a solution to the problem.
Overall, Romney came across as relaxed, clear, and confident. He had no notes, no teleprompters, and remained on topic, bringing his point across, regardless of the interruptions.
Definitely a good preview for the presidential debates.
For several months, Obama had a veto-proof majority in the Senate, as well as at least a few Republicans who would have been inclined to go along on the issue, such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham. He could have tackled immigration reform at any point in those first two years, and might have built enough bipartisan goodwill to boost his party’s chances in the midterms. Instead, Obama pushed it to the back burner and instead pursued an unpopular health-care overhaul that cost his party 68 House seats, ruining his chances to push through any more of his agenda in the final two years of his term.
So. Now he goes on Univision to say he’s taking the Latino vote for granted, and besides, he’ll get around to passing immigration amnesty sometime because he’s got “another five years“, while blaming Republicans in a meandering paragraph:
PIOLIN: We’re going to start right away because this is what our community wants to know. During your presidency, you have not delivered the immigration reform that we were hoping for. Thousands of families have been separated by deportation, leaving their children behind, alone in this country. Do you think that you still have the support of the Latino community?
OBAMA: Well, first of all Piolin, my presidency is not over, I’ve got another five years coming up. We’re going to get this done. And — and absolutely we have strong support in the Latino community because they have seen something we are working on. First of all, strengthening the economy, we were able to get the payroll tax done that provides 25 million Latinos with an extra 40 dollars in every paycheck and is going to strengthen the economy. We made sure unemployment insurance got extended because the Latino community has been so hard hit. A million Latinos are going to be benefiting from that. The housing settlement that we just passed, which will help Latino families all across the country who were taken advantage of by subprime lenders to be able to stay in their homes. The work we have done on education, to make sure millions of students — many Latino students are still getting Pell Grants and other scholarships and financial aid so that they can go to college. So, there are a lot of issues that we have worked on that have directly benefited millions of Latino families.
You’re right though, immigration reform is something we still have to get done and as I’ve told you since before I was elected president, the only way we are going to get this done fully is by getting Congress to do its job.
What we’ve been able to do is, administratively, we’ve said, let’s reemphasize our focus when it comes to enforcement on criminals and at the borders and let’s not be focusing our attention on hard-working families who are just trying to make ends meet. We’ve administratively proposed to reform the “three and 10” program so that families aren’t separated when they’re applying to stay here in this country.
So we are trying to do a lot to soften the effects of immigration, but ultimately, the only way we are going to do this is to get something passed through Congress, and that’s why we have to keep the pressure up.
Unfortunately, the Republican side, which used to at least give lip service to immigration reform, now they’ve gone completely to a different place and have shown themselves unwilling to talk at all about any sensible solutions to this issue and we are just going to have to keep up the pressure until they act.
My fellow Latinos and Latinas who favor immigration reform of any kind: if you fall for this line, the word best describing you is pendejos. Might as well wait for that algae fuel to gas up your car.
To my English-speaking readers who don’t know what the word means, the polite term is suckers.