Mitt Romney is having a very bad couple of weeks.
He was riding high on President Obama's tongue- fumble about the economy ("The private sector is doing fine."), shifting the campaign focus to concerns about the dismally slow recovery, and getting the rock star reception on his bus tour through key battleground states.
He was even inching up in polls of Hispanic voters. (Well, more like millimetering -- he only bumped up about a point. But that came as more polls showed Latino enthusiasm for the president dipping significantly.) Then, Obama threw him a powerful curve with is "stopgap" DREAM Act. His announcement that he was halting deportations of 800,000 or more young undocumented immigrants yanked the rug out from under Romney.
Suddenly, no one was talking about the economy. Everyone was talking immigration. Obama's enthusiasm rating went soaring. He got a standing ovation at a gathering of Latinos in Orlando; Romney got crickets.
Then, just when it couldn't get much worse, the Supreme Court handed down its mixed ruling on Arizona's draconian immigration crackdown law -- you know, the "you seem a little too brown to me, show me your papers" law. The justices struck down three of four provisions, but left in place the most controversial, the "show me your papers" part.
"After more than two years of legal challenges, the heart of SB 1070 can now be implemented in accordance with the U.S. Constitution," Brewer said.
It's actually the worst part of the ruling for Romney.
What the court said was, "This opinion does not foreclose other preemption and constitutional challenges to the law as interpreted and applied after it goes into effect."
In other words, ¿"Go ahead, Arizona, try it! We'll be back."
The justices said, in effect, they don't know if Arizona will somehow be able to enforce the part that brings up all the racial profiling issues without actually racial profiling. If Arizona can't, though, look out.
It's the part immigration reform advocates and national Hispanic groups are most concerned about. That's why it's the worst thing that could have happened to Romney.
With the threat of that part of the law looming, Hispanics will continue their fight. And Romney, who has tried desperately to walk a fine line between alienating even more Latinos with his hardline immigration stances and angering conservatives by backing down from them, is still stuck in that corner.
And, indeed, Hispanics are still vowing to fight.
"Our community has been paying close attention to this case and to the actions of those advancing and supporting these laws," Clarissa Martínez De Castro, LULAC's Director of Immigration and Civic Engagement, said in an emailed statement. "They are not retreating and neither are we! They are asking for our papers, so let's show them our voter registration cards!"
Obama couldn't have hoped for better. In fact, he issued a rallying cry for Hispanics, and promised to keep fighting for them. "No American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like," the president said in a written statement on his campaign website. "Going forward, we must ensure that Arizona law enforcement officials do not enforce this law in a manner that undermines the civil rights of Americans, as the Court's decision recognizes."
The best Mitt could muster following the decision was yet another namby-pamby equivocation. This time, to a group of Arizona supporters at a fundraiser.
"I would have preferred to see the Supreme Court give more latitude to the states, not less," he said. "And there are states now, under this decision, (that) have less authority, less latitude, to enforce immigration laws."
"In a very cynical way, it's the best of all worlds for Obama," Michael Yaki, the former San Francisco supervisor who sits on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It takes away a position that (Mitt) Romney has been bandying -- that laws like this are constitutional."
So Mitt Romney's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad immigration week continues. In the quick- changing world of presidential politics, however, that may soon be over. As in Thursday, when the justices are expected to rule on the Affordable Health Care Act.
That could be the start of Obama's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad turn.
Source: Terra/Carlos Harrison