02 November 2007

The elephant in the Democrats' living room

Hillary Clinton's waffly response on driver's licences for illegal aliens during the recent Democratic debate has drawn attention to the Democrats' greatest vulnerability: their weakness on the illegal-immigration issue.

The problem won't go away:

One poll finding this week that shook Democrats.....asked voters to pick two from a list of seven problems that explained "why the country is going in the wrong direction." The survey found that among independent voters, 40 percent -- by far the largest group -- picked this option: "Our borders have been left unprotected and illegal immigration is growing." By contrast, a lack of action on health care was named by only 24 percent of independents as a core problem, and Iraq by 23 percent.

It's an issue on which the people are prepared to get mad and fight the government -- as they did in June.

Here's an intelligent, if perhaps a little too pessimistic, look at the problem. In my view, it may actually be beneficial to have the Democrats' biggest weak point forced out onto the table so early in the campaign season, rather than being left to become a major Republican weapon against them during the general-election campaign. Hillary has toughened her stance on issues like Iran and military response to future terrorist acts, thus inoculating herself against another potential line of attack. She still has time to do the same on illegal immigration — if she understands what’s at stake.

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