There he goes again. "Those who've been arrested or convicted of crimes shouldn't be here. Those that are here paying taxes and not taking government benefits should begin a process toward application for citizenship, as they would from their home country."
There he goes again.
"Those who've been arrested or convicted of crimes shouldn't be here. Those that are here paying taxes and not taking government benefits should begin a process toward application for citizenship, as they would from their home country."
Sounds reasonable enough. It sounds very much like the approach of the U.S. Senate's compromise immigration bill that's currently the target of conservative wrath.
Yet no one has been more critical of that compromise than the man who sounded so reasonable just a year ago in an interview with a New Hampshire newspaper.
"Amnesty," Mitt Romney now is screaming, to anyone who will listen, in condemning both the bill and the man who was a key to the negotiations, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
Is there anything Romney won't say or do to try to win the Republican nomination?
Consistency might be the hobgoblin of small minds, but a man who will change his mind about anything is a man who can't be trusted.
You don't have to be a Democrat to see that.
Responding to Romney's criticism in a conference call with bloggers, McCain unloaded on his flip-flopping Republican opponent.
"Maybe I should wait a couple of weeks and see if it (Romney's opinion) changes because it's changed in less than a year from his position before," McCain said.
That was the nice part. Then he took off the gloves: "And maybe his solution will be to get out his small varmint gun and drive those Guatemalans off his lawn."
The Guatemalans are the gardeners who have been taking care of the Romneys' yard for the past decade. The varmint gun refers to Romney's exaggerated description of himself as a lifelong hunter, only to have it come out that he's gone hunting exactly two more times than I have, which is to say, twice.
Of course, Romney's defenders have answers for everything.
How was he to know the company he employed to tend his spacious lawn and garden was using undocumented workers to do the job?
You don't expect the man to talk to his gardeners, do you?
Especially when he's busy mouse hunting, which was essentially Romney's defense to the criticism that two hunting expeditions does not a lifelong hunter make.
Who is McCain to talk?
"It seems that certain candidates who brokered this flawed plan are having a very difficult time grappling with or coming to terms with the political fallout that has ensued in a substantive manner," retorted Romney spokesman Kevin Madden.
The viciousness of the Republican front-runners toward each other makes the Democratic contest look like a trip to charm school.
While the Democrats quibble about who was first to oppose the war and who is most opposed to it now, there's no sense of the mutual contempt that's beginning to define the Republican campaign.
No wonder New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg reportedly is preparing for a possible independent run.
It's possible for a candidate to emerge from an ugly primary battle and go on to win the nomination.
George Bush beat Al Gore (sort of), though his contest with McCain was much nastier than Gore's with Bill Bradley.
The usual rule of thumb is that the tougher the fight for the nomination and the more demanding it is, the less the nomination turns out to be worth in the end.
Losers make losers. By that standard, the question isn't really whether America is ready to elect a woman or a black as president, but whether any of the Republicans will be sufficiently intact to have a chance of winning.
At the rate the Republicans are going in attacking each other, I wouldn't bet on it.
Estrich is a syndicated columnist based in Los Angeles. She can be contacted at www.creators.com.