Team McCain has its latest ad out today, taken from a New Hampshire debate in June 2007, when John McCain soliloquized on the contributions of Hispanic citizens and residents to our efforts in Vietnam and Iraq. Titled “God’s Children”, the ad matches imagery to McCain’s impromptu salute:
My friends, I want you the next time you’re down in Washington, D.C., to go to the Vietnam War Memorial and look at the names engraved in black granite. You’ll find a whole lot of Hispanic names.
When you go to Iraq or Afghanistan today, you’re going to see a whole lot of people who are of Hispanic background. You’re even going to meet some of the few thousand that are still green card holders who are not even citizens of this country, who love this country so much that they’re willing to risk their lives in its service in order to accelerate their path to citizenship and enjoy the bountiful, blessed nation.
So let’s from time to time remember that these are God’s children. They must come into country legally, but they have enriched our culture and our nation as every generation of immigrants before them.
About the best that can be said for this clip is that it was much more effective in context than it is here. During the debate, the other candidates had described illegal immigrants as not much more than a plague upon the land. This response came spontaneously from McCain, defending the contributions of Hispanics in the US as a reminder to Republicans to keep the rhetoric from getting overheated.
Now, though, this ad sounds like a non-sequitur. He and Barack Obama are close in policy on immigration, to the point where conservatives have resigned themselves not to bring it up if McCain won’t. Unfortunately, this sounds now like a deliberate provocation to the Right, who in fairness have never — never — discounted the contributions of Hispanic citizens and legal residents, especially not their long history of service to this nation. The issue is illegal immigration and border security, not whether we know that Americans of Hispanic descent have risked and given their lives for us.
This is a monumentally stupid ad. It spends a full minute saying nothing about the issue it supposedly addresses, and it insults the intelligence of the people whom McCain is trying to woo. And I’m someone who has a little more sympathy for McCain’s efforts on immigration than most on the Right. Take two big steps backward, Senator McCain.