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Mitt Romney flip-flops a grenade into illegal immigration debate.

How do I put this? Actually, that’s easy: with malice aforethought. Below are two key quotes of Mitt Romney with regard to his discussion with the Washington Examiner about illegal immigration:

I listened to Lindsey Graham the other day… I went down to Florida and met with Jeb Bush…

Yeah. As The Examiner put it – succinctly – “Lindsey Graham. Jeb Bush. If you are an “attrition-through-enforcement” conservative on illegal immigration, then this answer is probably setting off alarms.”

Come, I will conceal nothing from you: I am a pro-amnesty immigration squish. Once we have control of the border – real control of it, which to me means something like four digits’ worth of illegal immigrants every year instead of the six digits we get now – I’d be happy to trade green cards for getting these people out of the shadow economy and into the assimilation process. If that seems unreasonable, well… that’s a common reaction to pretty much everybody else’s immigration solution, too. And, frankly, if we had a simple solution we’d have put it in place*. All of which means that I am predisposed to be more in favor of either Rick Perry’s or Newt Gingrich’s views on immigration than I would be towards Mitt Romney‘s – at least, before Romney had last weekend’s upgrade to his operating system. But now that the wetware’s been updated, I’ll feel more comfortable towards Team Mitt once his new and improved – read, “more like my” – stance is revealed, right?

Not a chance. Perry’s immigration position is based on his real-life experience governing a border state whose history has been intertwined with Mexico for going on two centuries now. Gingrich’s is more intellectual and less practical, but it’s based on his ongoing study of the national situation (you don’t have to agree with his thinking, but Gingrich did think about it). Neither man is particularly likely to change their views any time soon, either. But Romney? …This is the first step in redefining Romney’s pander on immigration from ‘Republican base’ to ‘the general electorate,’ and it’ll be blatantly obvious once Romney unveils his plan. Which will be as late in the day as Team Romney can manage.

Shorter Moe Lane: I actually can recognize when people are trying to urinate on my leg and tell me that it’s precipitation. I’ll stick with the candidates who take a stand and mean it, thanks.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*This is the part where people start confidently saying how there is a simple solution – which, surprisingly, is also their solution. Um. No. If it was simple and easy, we’d do it. No, there is no secret conspiracy that is keeping that simple solution from happening. No, there is no all-powerful lobby that is effortlessly enforcing its will on the rest of us. No, devil theories have limited value beyond being the intellectual equivalent of comfort food. And getting mad that I am daring to write all of that will not actually help the situation any.

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